Let’s talk about food: an examination of the dietary and health perceptions, behaviors, knowledge, and interests of newcomer youth and caregivers

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Lauren R. Sastre (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site: http://library.uncg.edu/
Lauren Haldeman

Abstract: The overall purpose of this research was to examine the dietary and health perceptions, behaviors, knowledge, and interests of newcomer youth (ages 12–17) and caregivers. This work included three components: facilitated discussions with caregivers, facilitated discussion and semi-structured interviews with adolescents, and a survey (including BMI assessment) with adolescents. In the first phase, the focus groups with caregivers (n=38) revealed interest in receiving community based nutrition education, assistance utilizing food labels, learning to cook and taste test local/American foods, as well as diet-related chronic disease concerns. Caregivers also expressed concern regarding the lack of healthy options in restaurants and lack of fruits and vegetables in their children’s diets. In the second phase, a facilitated discussion and semi-structured interviews were conducted with adolescents (n=9) which focused on changes to diet and physical activity as well as nutrition and health literacy. Themes identified via content analysis revealed consistent perceptions of reductions in physical activity upon arrival. Participants consistently described the many ways they were active prior to arriving to the U.S. and the limited current opportunities. This was in contrast to dietary changes, in which participants reported their diets to be similar to pre-arrival (however, they also listed a variety of new foods they were eating after arrival to the U.S.). Participants described health as a concept of “balance” (e.g., limiting junk, sugar, fat, and salt, and eating fruits and vegetables) and also mentioned the value of physical activity in supporting health. Female participants expressed many concerns regarding weight gain and a desire to lose weight. In the third phase, a survey and BMI data were collected from adolescents (n=67). Approximately one-third (31.5%) were overweight/obese. Nearly 46% (45.8%) reported they believe their weight to be “good” and participants with positive body satisfaction were more likely to be within the normal BMI range (p=0.010). Nearly 47% (46.8%) have tried to lose weight. Dietary acculturation scores were marginally (and positively) associated with BMI (p=0.057). Significant relationships between dietary acculturation and the value of convenience (p=0.003) and observing Americans eat foods (p=0.030) were also identified. Taste and cost were also significantly associated with BMI with those with a higher BMI more likely to value taste and less likely to be concerned with cost (p=0.010 and p=0.009, respectively). Just over 85% (85.3%) had tried four or more new foods and the largest factors influencing food choices included health (70.1%), taste (55.2%), religion (45.3%), and convenience (44.6%). Significant increases in consumption of milk, fruit juice, soda, and meat were identified between pre- and post-arrival reported intake frequencies (p=0.009, p=0.002, p=0.026, and p=0.010, respectively). Students reported they wished to be more physically active (84.8%) and have more opportunities to play more sports (84.7%). Students were more likely to associate physical activity with health in comparison to diet (83.1% vs. 41.5%), and 56.7% agreed with the statement “I am healthy.”This work suggests many areas of concern for newcomer adolescents including body dissatisfaction and poor body image, limited access to physical activity, and rapid dietary changes (negative and positive), as well as many areas of interest for nutrition education with caregivers. Many areas of concern as well as of interest were identified in this newly-arrived and diverse study population that may guide future nutrition education and health promotion research and programming.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2016
Acculturation, Adolescent, Immigrant, Newcomer, Nutrition, Refugee
Children of immigrants $z North Carolina $x Social conditions
Children of immigrants $x Health and hygiene $z North Carolina
Children of immigrants $x Nutrition $z North Carolina
Immigrants $z North Carolina $x Social conditions
Immigrants $x Health and hygiene $z North Carolina
Immigrants $x Nutrition $z North Carolina

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