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Environmental influences on physical activity and diet of Woodland Cree women in northern Saskatchewan



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Increased prevalence rates of overweight and obesity (OW/OB) have been reported among Aboriginal women and while the literature suggests that changes in lifestyle (i.e. physical activity and diet) account for this trend, few studies have explored how the physical and sociocultural environments and individual attitudes and beliefs regarding physical activity (PA) and healthy eating may contribute to the increase. The purposes of this project were to: 1) Determine the current prevalence of OW/OB in the community, 2) assess changes in OW/OB from 1991 to 2005, 3) assess current PA and dietary practices, and 4) explore the influence of the physical and sociocultural environments as well as individual attitudes and beliefs regarding PA and healthy eating among the females in the community. The prevalence of OW/OB was 26% among youth and 68% among adults. Overall, no significant difference in rates of OW/OB among youth or adults occurred over time, however there was a significant decrease in rates of OW/OB for adult males and a tendency towards a greater increase in OW/OB among female youth. A pattern of abdominal obesity among all age groups of females was noted. There was a significant increase in body mass index (BMI) classification over time among individuals with serial data. Walking and housework were the most frequently reported activities. Although the PA data suggests levels associated with health benefits, these results must be interpreted cautiously given housework was performed at a low intensity. Personal, community-specific and environmental factors were highlighted as barriers to PA, whereas organized, age-specific, women-only programs were highlighted as potential enablers for PA. Low intakes of fruits and vegetables and milk products across all age groups, with high intakes of foods high in fat, oil, sugar, salt, particularly among those under 25 years were reported. Traditional food use increased with increasing age, however was low even among women aged 55+. While food preference was influenced primarily by taste, barriers to healthy eating were largely related to geographic location. Collectively, the results of this study emphasize the importance developing community-based health promotion programs that focus on reducing identified barriers to PA and healthy eating to promote healthy body weights in the community.



environment, diet, mixed methods, physical activity, Aboriginal women



Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


College of Kinesiology


College of Kinesiology



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