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Cultural Influences on Healthy Weight Care in Karen Children

  • Author Footnotes
    1 Present/Permanent Address: Cumberland University, Jeanette C. Rudy School of Nursing and Health Professions, 1 Cumberland Square, Lebanon, TN 37087-3408.
    Rebecca E. Chatham
    Correspondence
    Corresponding author at: University of Tennessee Knoxville College of Nursing, 1200 Volunteer Blvd., Knoxville, TN 37996-4180, United States of America.
    Footnotes
    1 Present/Permanent Address: Cumberland University, Jeanette C. Rudy School of Nursing and Health Professions, 1 Cumberland Square, Lebanon, TN 37087-3408.
    Affiliations
    College of Nursing, University of Tennessee-Knoxville, United States of America
    Search for articles by this author
  • Sandra J. Mixer
    Affiliations
    College of Nursing, University of Tennessee-Knoxville, United States of America
    Search for articles by this author
  • Author Footnotes
    1 Present/Permanent Address: Cumberland University, Jeanette C. Rudy School of Nursing and Health Professions, 1 Cumberland Square, Lebanon, TN 37087-3408.

      Highlights

      • The ethnonursing research method explored healthy weight care in Karen families.
      • Transportation barriers limit exercise in Karen-American children/adolescents.
      • Traditional Karen meals prepared at home are preferred by Karen-American children.
      • Cross-language methods developed access to and trust with ethnic minority community.

      Abstract

      Purpose

      Although the rates of childhood obesity are disproportionately higher in children of racial and ethnic minorities, research rarely addresses possible cultural factors. The purpose of this study was to discover cultural influences that contribute to or prevent childhood obesity from the perspectives of Burmese-American children and adolescents of Karen ethnicity in the southeast U.S.

      Design and methods

      The ethnonursing research method was used to seek perspectives of healthy weight care from Karen children between 8 and 15 years-of-age (n = 10). Karen parents (n = 5) and non-Karen community members (n = 13) were also interviewed. Data sources – interviews, fieldnotes, and observation notes – were analyzed using the four phases of the ethnonursing method.

      Results

      Four themes important to healthy weight care in Karen children were discovered: views of a healthy child, food and food preparation, physical activity, and mutual support among family and community. These themes revealed both Karen and non-Karen influences.

      Conclusions

      Most Karen cultural influences promote healthy weight care in Karen children and adolescents which may protect them from childhood obesity. Lack of after-school transportation, limited space to play/exercise, and the sedentary tendencies of girls could limit healthy weight care.

      Practice implications

      Pediatric nurses may use knowledge gained from this study for promotion of healthy weight care in Karen families and to advocate for community changes which could benefit all children.

      Keywords

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