Food and Diet According to People With Diabetes Mellitus: Contribution of Social Representations

Maria Marta Amancio Amorim, Natália Ramos, Maria Flávia Gazzinelli


Aim: To identify social representations of the diet of people with type 2 diabetes mellitus (DM2). Methods: Users with DM2, from a basic health centre (n = 34) in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, were requested to indicate 5 words and a corresponding justification after being asked the following question: when we are talking about the diet of someone diabetic what comes to your mind? The answers were recorded, transcribed, categorised and interpreted using content analysis and social representation theory. Results: Some of the interviewed stated that someone with type 2 diabetes should eat healthily. Others focused on food quality, such as eating vegetables and fruits while avoiding sweets. There were also those who emphasised eating small amounts of food, that is, the quantity of food they consumed. There were those who represented eating as not eating too much, focusing on the frequency of intake, as they considered that breaking down the diet in many meals is not appropriate. Others focused their speech on selective food intake, specifically those that do not harm the body. Lastly, others, considered that food intake does not imply following a specific specific diet. Conclusion: There is a variety of discourse regarding dietary norms in society, leaving people with DM2 in great doubt about what they can or cannot eat.


food intake; diabetes mellitus; primary health care; social representations