21 Pages

Psychosocial Factors

A variety of psychosocial factors have been studied as possible causes of the com mon obesity among African American women. M ethodology has varied widely and m ethodological quality has generally been poor, although there are exceptions. Strong social psychological theorizing has generally not underpinned this research, standardized measurem ents o f known reliability and validity have generally not been em ployed, and samples have often been small or convenience samples, or both. All o f these factors com bine to make it very difficult to review the psychoso­ cial influences on obesity among African American women. The literature, al­ though a morass, clearly supports the conclusion that, with respect to body shape, weight, and size, there are detectable differences about how African American women think or feel, com pared to, for example, European American women. Beyond this incredibly imprecise general statement, it is difficult to know what to conclude from this literature. Nevertheless, there are a few subareas characterized by a degree of clarity and consistency. W e review those here.