Community and family perspectives on addressing overweight in urban, African-American youth

Deborah L. Burnet, Andrea J. Plaut, Kathryn Ossowski, Afshan Ahmad, Michael T. Quinn, Sally Radovick, Rita Gorawara-Bhat, Marshall H. Chin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVE: To assess weight-related beliefs and concerns of overweight urban, African-American children, their parents, and community leaders before developing a family-based intervention to reduce childhood overweight and diabetes risk. DESIGN: We conducted 13 focus groups with overweight children and their parents and eight semistructured interviews with community leaders. PARTICIPANTS AND SETTING: Focus group participants (N=67) from Chicago's South Side were recruited through flyers in community sites. Interview participants (N=9) were recruited to sample perspectives from health, fitness, education, civics, and faith leaders. RESULTS: Community leaders felt awareness was higher for acute health conditions than for obesity. Parents were concerned about their children's health, but felt stressed by competing priorities and constrained by lack of knowledge, parenting skills, time, and financial resources. Parents defined overweight in functional terms, whereas children relied upon physical appearances. Children perceived negative social consequences of overweight. Parents and children expressed interest in family-based interventions to improve nutrition and physical activity and offered suggestions for making programs interesting. CONCLUSIONS: This study provides insights into the perspectives of urban, African-American overweight children, their parents, and community leaders regarding nutrition and physical activity. The specific beliefs of these respondents can become potential leverage points in interventions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)175-179
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of General Internal Medicine
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2008


  • African Americans
  • Children
  • Focus groups
  • Nutrition
  • Overweight
  • Type 2 diabetes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Internal Medicine


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