Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)



Date of Award


Committee Chair or Co-Chairs

Florence M. Weierbach

Committee Members

Jean Croce Hemphill, Georgita Tolbert Washington, Deborah L. Slawson


Obesity is one of the fastest-growing health concerns impacting all racial, ethnic, gender, and socioeconomic groups in the United States of America. More than one-third of the U.S. adult population is classified as being obese (Obesity Society, 2014). Novak and Brownell (2012) identified that “obesity rates are consistently rising higher each year than in previous years” (p. 2345). Obesity has reached epidemic proportions in all races and genders within the US with African American women comprising a majority of those impacted by this chronic health condition. Obesity rates are well documented within the literature but what is lacking is the role spirituality may play in obese African American women and their health behaviors. The purpose of this qualitative, phenomenological study was to explore and describe the lived experiences of obese African American women with attention and focus on weight, health behaviors, and spirituality. This study consisted of participant recruitment from various social organizations, beauty salons, and faith-based organizations. A naturalistic setting with a descriptive approach was taken to interview the participants and all recorded interviews were transcribed and utilized for data analysis. The analysis method for this study was the qualitative content analysis process. Upon completion of data analysis, the identification of three themes, who I am, the weight I bear, and power struggles, assisted with recognizing the gaps and concerns that supported the researcher in painting a picture of the lived experiences of obese African American women. Recommendations included diversifying healthcare providers, implementing community-based interventions and research, and completing knowledge assessments before education. A future research opportunity includes utilizing beauticians as lay community members of a research study to provide education and initiate hard conversations regarding weight, health behaviors, and interventions to their clientele.

Document Type

Dissertation - embargo


Copyright by the authors.

Available for download on Wednesday, November 06, 2024

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