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Proc Nutr Soc. 2011 May;70(2):252-62. doi: 10.1017/S0029665111000085. Epub 2011 Mar 30.

Nutrition in an ethnically diverse society: what are some of the key challenges?

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  • 1Warwick Medical School, University of Warwick, Coventry CV4 7AL, UK.


The role of nutrition is especially important in certain 'lifestyle' diseases that impact disproportionately on ethnic minority populations. The aim of this paper is to review the evidence of risk, health outcomes and interventions for certain diseases that affect the UK's largest ethnic minority group (South Asians) in order to help professionals better address the needs of this diverse population. Research evidence is presented on factors influencing access to services by ethnic minority populations and the changing UK policy background for public health and preventive care. The available research base on obesity, diabetes and CVD is discussed. Conditions such as type 2 diabetes, which are more prevalent among the South Asian population, are associated with poorer health outcomes and appear to exhibit links to diet and nutrition that start in childhood or even before birth; all making preventive care important. Obesity is a major risk factor and it appears that BMI thresholds may need to be lower for South Asians. Targeted interventions to improve diet and outcomes in the South Asian population also appear promising. Recent moves to promote access to evidence of ethnicity and health and to improve the cultural competence of organisations are discussed. Health professionals will increasingly need to promote lifestyle changes in a manner that meets the needs of a diverse population in order to address future public health challenges. Nutritionists and other professionals will need to ensure that interventions are culturally appropriate and involve engagement with extended family members and communities.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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