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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Midlife women, food choice, and bone health : a qualitative case study of using a participatory practice approach to develop targeted nutrition education resources Hammond, Gail Kathleen


Nutrition professionals rely on nutrition education resources to help people make informed food choices. Despite this reliance, nutrition education resources are often developed in isolation of the intended users, a practice that may compromise the effectiveness of dietary services provided by nutrition professionals. Diet is a modifiable factor impacting bone health. Concurrent with midlife Canadian women’s less than recommended dietary intake of foods rich in calcium and vitamin D—two key nutrients for bone health—is a projected increased incidence of osteoporosis as Canada’s population ages. Providing dietary services that match midlife Canadian women’s needs may be effectual in maximizing dietary approaches to bone health. The objectives of this two-phase qualitative research were, first, to gain insight into how midlife women consider bone health in their food choices, and second, to use an inclusive and collaborative process engaging nutrition professionals and lay midlife women in producing bone health-related nutrition education resources that meet their needs. Using focus groups and qualitative data analysis strategies consistent with focus group methodology, the first phase revealed multiple realities for healthy midlife women; despite this, they shared an idealized view of wanting to eat for “holistic” health. Most do not want to explicitly prioritize bone health relative to other aspects of health; however, few women felt their usual eating patterns matched the prevailing idealized view. In the second phase, a collaborative partnership of midlife community women and dietitians used a participatory practice approach to develop two nutrition education resources: a bookmark style print resource and a website combining women’s personal stories with information on food choices, physical activity, and nutritional supplements. Qualitative interviews conducted at the conclusion of the project revealed varied ways in which the participants valued and used the final resources in their personal and professional lives. A reflective examination of the benefits obtained from, and challenges encountered in, this project suggests that nutrition professionals’ practice of developing nutrition education resources may benefit from engaging in inclusive and collaborative activities with the intended users of their nutrition services.

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