Setting the standard: juggling mental well-being, healthy eating and physical activity

Student Classification


Faculty Mentor

Dr. Jeannette Wade



Document Type


Publication Date

Fall 2019


African Americans are more likely to have higher rates of obesity which means higher risks of chronic diseases (Ogden, Carroll, Kit, & Flegal, 2014). Specifically, African American women tend to have higher rates of obesity, are less likely to engage in physical activity and less likely to lose weight compared to white women (Fitzgibbon et al., 2015). Cultural factors may play a role in these health trends and how African American women respond. The expectation of being a “Strong Black Woman” can influence African American women’s mental and physical health and play a role in those health issues. The study seeks to understand how the role of the “Strong Black Women” impact on mental health is related to nutritional health and eating habits. This study consisted of African American women aged 18-25 who were recruited from North Carolina A&T State University. Data was collected through qualitative methods which consisted of small focus groups. Participants answered questions related to obesity, mental and physical health, and perceptions of what it is like to be a strong woman. Two significant themes emerged from the data collected: 1) mental health was seen as one of the top barriers that put black women’s health at risk and 2) food security seems to be an indicator of healthy versus unhealthy eating habits. Future directions for this study include exploring how mental health status may be an important factor in determining nutritional and physical health.

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