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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The meaning of body, food, eating, and health for first generation Filipino Canadian women in British Columbia’s lower mainland Farrales, Lynn Labrador


Information on the meaning systems underlying body, food, eating, and health for many ethnic cultures within North American society is limited. Existing research suggests that the meaning systems for body, food, eating, and health for most ethnic cultures differ from those of the host North American culture. Despite the growing Filipino Canadian population, no information was found for this ethnic group with regard to these issues. With an increased understanding of Filipino Canadian culture, health professionals working with women of Filipino Canadian ethnicity will have the tools needed to provide culturally sensitive care. Therefore, the objective of this thesis was to increase the understanding of the culture of Filipino Canadian women as it pertains to body, food, eating, and health. The qualitative research paradigm was chosen to explore the culture of Filipino Canadian women because, as opposed to quantitative research where the goals are to verify, predict, and control, the goals of qualitative research are to explain, discover, understand, and generate theories. The processes of sampling, data collection, and data analysis occured simultaneously throughout the research process. Sampling was purposive in that informants were chosen according to certain characteristics in order to highlight similarities and differences between informants. The informants consisted of first generation Filipino Canadian women from 19 to 30 years old who were born in the Philippines to parents of Filipino heritage. Data were collected from eleven informants by conducting semi-structured open-ended interviews. Preliminary data analysis guided subsequent sampling of participants, interviews, and analysis strategies. Later analysis stages involved the development of the major themes using domain and taxonomic analyses. Several steps were taken to ensure the trustworthiness of the research. First, peer debriefing, negative case analyses, and member checks were used to establish the credibility of the emergent themes. Second, rich descriptions of the context were provided in order to aid in the transferability of the findings. Third, an inquiry audit was conducted in order to establish the dependability of the research process and confirmability of the findings. The majority of informants valued thinness, valued the concept of "watching" fat, rice and sweet, salty, and junk food intake, and were concerned about minimizing disease risk. These views were associated with "Canadian" culture. On the other hand, a minority valued fatness, valued the concept of "just eating" fat and rice, and revealed a concern with maximizing disease resistance. These views were associated with "Filipino" culture. Although the findings suggested that the informants were fairly well assimilated into the host North American culture, evidence does exist which shows that most of them experienced the conflict of the "Filipino" and "Canadian" cultural systems.

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