An Exploratory Study on the Physical Activity and Dietary Behaviours of Iranian Immigrant and Refugee Women in the United Kingdom

PhD Thesis

Soltani, N. 2019. An Exploratory Study on the Physical Activity and Dietary Behaviours of Iranian Immigrant and Refugee Women in the United Kingdom. PhD Thesis University of East London School of Health, Sport and Bioscience
AuthorsSoltani, N.
TypePhD Thesis

This research considers the role of migration on the physical activity and dietary practices of Iranian migrant women in the United Kingdom. It takes into account previous studies that migration leads to poorer socio-economic status of women that limits their physical activity and food choices. Conversely, a study in Britain reveals that Iranians continue with their traditional Iranian food practices. This qualitative study was informed by social practice theory, which posits that practices depend on the integration of three key elements: materials, competences and meanings. The study participants were 22 first generation Iranian migrant women aged 24-64 residing in London. Data were collected through in-depth, semi-structured, individual interviews and were analyzed thematically. The findings show that for those women from traditional family backgrounds, migration corresponds with liberation from the social and cultural pressures in Iran and greater motivation (meanings) to adopt physically active lifestyles. Nonetheless, migration for the recent arrivals results in living with limited financial resources (materials) in the context of fragmented Iranian community in the UK. This leads to diminishing the women’s motivation (meanings) to participate in physical activity (competence). Moreover, motherhood and childcare responsibilities (other priorities) limit their choices to use sports facilities and it prevents the women participating in moderate physical activity (lower competence). In relation to dietary practices, the multicultural food environment, affordable prices and widespread food stores (materials) coupled with the women’s cooking skills and improved knowledge of healthy food (greater competences) result in practising a healthier traditional Iranian diet for the women. The application of social practice theory shows the dissimilar food infrastructure/resources compared with the resources for physical activity (materials). Moreover, the respondents attributed greater values (meanings) to food than physical activity that results in colonizing their energy, time, skills (competences) and budget to food especially amongst those living with family members.

PublisherUniversity of East London
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Online18 Mar 2021
Publication process dates
SubmittedFeb 2019
Deposited18 Mar 2021
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