Understanding eating and drinking behaviours in Pakistani university students: A conceptual model through qualitative enquiry.
Sadia A., Strodl E., Khawaja NG., Kausar R., Cooper MJ.
Excess weight in Pakistan's university students is on the rise and is driven by their maladaptive eating behaviours. Practitioners in Pakistan have adopted Western conceptual models to understand obesogenic eating behaviours. However, these models provide incomplete explanations as they miss important culturally specific determinants for such eating behaviours. The goals of this study were two-fold: first, to explore Pakistani university students' perception of their obesity-related eating behaviours and attitudes; second, to develop a culturally sensitive model of obesogenic eating behaviours in university students from Pakistan. Semi-structured interviews were used with twenty-four Pakistani university students who were categorised as obese using the Body Mass Index according to Asia-Specific cut-offs. Interviews were transcribed, translated, and then analysed through a Grounded Theory methodology. Six major categories emerged from interviews: (1) Obesogenic Eating Habits (Social Eating, Emotional Eating, and Eating Whatever and Whenever You Want); (2) Beliefs about Food in the Culture; (3) Neither Too Fat nor Too Thin body belief (4) Student Life Attitudes; (5) Student Stressors; (6) Inconsistent Weight-Control Strategies. A model was developed with cultural beliefs about food, attitudes towards student-life, and stressors as important determinants of students' obesogenic eating habits, while inconsistent weight-control strategies contributed to further weight gain. The findings highlight the importance of identifying culturally specific determinants of eating behaviours among university students in Pakistan. This emerging model can be used to guide the development of future quantitative and also longitudinal studies aimed at identifying targets for therapeutic interventions to manage obesogenic eating behaviours in Pakistani university students.