Objective: To investigate factors affecting food choice and health beliefs among low-income women in the context of their weight and socioeconomic status.
Design: Two researchers conducted 14 90-minute focus groups, which were audiotaped.
Setting: Libraries, homeless shelters, and a community center.
Participants: Ninety-two low-income women (18-65 years) with at least 1 child aged 9-13 years in the household.
Main outcome measures: Food choice and health beliefs of low-income women.
Analysis: Transcripts were coded and reconciled; common themes and subthemes were identified.
Results: Over 75% of participants were overweight/obese (body mass index [BMI] > or = 25), and most were in charge of purchasing and preparing food for their families. Health concerns included diabetes, hypertension, and overweight/obesity, and most felt their health status had genetic or metabolic origins. Although many would like to regularly consume healthful food (eg, fresh fruits and vegetables), such food was perceived as unaffordable.
Conclusions and implications: A disconnect between diet and health among low-income women calls for nutrition interventions that educate low-income families on inexpensive, healthful eating in a structured environment, and diet-disease relationships. Changes at a policy level should be considered to increase affordability and accessibility of healthful food in low-income neighborhoods and through federal food assistance programs.