Income differences in social control of eating behaviors and food choice priorities among southern rural women in the US: A qualitative study

Melissa J. Vilaro, Tracey E. Barnett, Anne Mathews, Jamie Pomeranz, Barbara Curbow

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

9 Scopus citations

Abstract

The role of social influences on rural women's food choice is not well understood. Rural adults experience high rates of obesity and poor diet quality prompting exploration of how social factors influence food choice in this population. Semi-structured qualitative interviews were conducted with 20 women in rural North Central Florida. Women were purposively sampled and stratified by race and income. Lower income was defined as household income at or below 185% of the federal poverty level (FPL). Women at or below 185% poverty level (BPL) experienced direct social control of their eating behaviors, which occurred when social network members explicitly regulated or otherwise sanctioned eating behaviors or food choices. Women above 185% of the federal poverty level (APL) internalized social norms and self-regulated their eating behaviors to maintain healthy habits. APL women described choosing foods for health reasons whereas BPL women offered a variety of reasons including taste, convenience, family history, price, health, and routine. Findings suggest that women in different income groups have different social influences working to help them regulate eating behaviors as well as diverse priorities influencing their food choices. Future interventions to promote healthy eating may be more effective by incorporating social network members and framing intervention messages so they are consistent with priorities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)604-612
Number of pages9
JournalAppetite
Volume107
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2016

Keywords

  • Food choice
  • Qualitative
  • Rural
  • Social control
  • Social influence

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