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Perspectives on enhancing physical activity and diet for health promotion among at-risk urban UK South Asian communities: a qualitative study
  1. Laura Cross-Bardell,
  2. Tracey George,
  3. Mandeep Bhoday,
  4. Helena Tuomainen,
  5. Nadeem Qureshi,
  6. Joe Kai
  1. Division of Primary Care, University of Nottingham, Nottingham, UK
  1. Correspondence to Professor Joe Kai; joe.kai{at}


Objectives To explore perspectives on enhancing physical activity and diet among South Asians in urban deprived communities at high risk of chronic disease and to inform development of culturally appropriate health promotion intervention.

Design Qualitative study using semistructured one-to-one and family group interviews with thematic analysis of data.

Setting Urban disadvantaged communities in the East Midlands of the UK.

Participants 45 respondents, including 34 people of South Asian origin (16 at-risk individuals, six family groups involving 18 relatives), of mainly Pakistani and Indian origin, including 16 non-English speakers; and 11 health professionals working locally with communities of concern.

Results South Asian participants underlined the challenges of requiring family members across generations to engage in modifying dietary behaviours, and the central role of communal eating of traditional ‘Asian’ food in their cultural lives. Barriers to increasing physical activity included cost, personal safety and lack of time outside of long working hours and carer commitments. However, increasing walking activity was regarded as feasible by both community and health professional participants. Respondents emphasised using a social approach for potential interventions, undertaking activity with family or friends and with bilingual community peers to facilitate engagement, motivation and support. Spoken content and delivery of interventions was favoured, including personal stories and multilingual audio–visual information; within local informal rather than provider settings, including the home; and aided by pedometers for self-monitoring.

Conclusions Focusing on physical activity by increasing walking may hold promise as health promotion in this deprived South Asian community context. Further intervention development, with exploration of feasibility and acceptability of the social approach and elements suggested, is merited.


This is an Open Access article distributed in accordance with the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY 4.0) license, which permits others to distribute, remix, adapt and build upon this work, for commercial use, provided the original work is properly cited. See:

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