Weight Matters—Factors Influencing Eating Behaviors of Vulnerable Women

Marcela Vizcarra, Ana María Palomino, Lorena Iglesias, Alejandra Valencia, Patricia Gálvez Espinoza, Andiara Schwingel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Women from low socioeconomic backgrounds are more affected by obesity than men. The influence of weight as a determinant of women’s eating behaviors has seldom been studied, especially in Latin America. In this study, we analyzed the food choices of vulnerable women according to their weight status. We conducted photo-elicitation interviews with 31 women from low-income neighborhoods in Santiago, Chile. Weight and height were measured and participants were divided into normal weight (n = 9), overweight (n = 15), and obese groups (n = 7) according to World Health Organization (WHO) body mass index (BMI) categories (p < 0.001). Quantitative and qualitative approaches were used for the analysis. Women in overweight and obese groups described more about their families, temporality, financial issues, and food perception. When weight groups were analyzed separately, more factors explaining eating behaviors were found (mental and physical health, body dissatisfaction, gender role, and obstacles for eating healthy) in the obese group. Results suggest that women with obesity or overweight based their diets on more internal and external factors than did normal weight women. This study contributes to our understanding of why changing behaviors can be difficult in women with obesity. Health care providers should consider these factors in the implementation of programs to address the need for a healthy diet for overweight and obese women.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1809
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 6 2019


  • eating behaviors
  • women
  • weight status
  • qualitative research
  • Qualitative research
  • Women
  • Eating behaviors
  • Weight status

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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