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J Health Care Poor Underserved. 2004 Nov;15(4):631-44.

How do urban African Americans and Latinos view the influence of diet on hypertension?

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  • 1Department of Health Policy, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York, NY, USA.


Uncontrolled hypertension and its complications continue to be major health problems that disproportionately affect poor minority communities. Although dietary modification is an effective treatment for hypertension, it is not clear how hypertensive minority patients view diet as part of their treatment, and what barriers affect their abilities to eat healthy diets. We conducted nine focus groups with 88 African American and Latino patients treated for hypertension to assess their knowledge, attitudes, behaviors, and beliefs concerning hypertension. Participants generally agreed that certain foods and food additives play an important role in the cause and treatment of hypertension. However, they found clinician-recommended diets difficult to follow in the context of their family lives, social situations, and cultures. These diets were often considered expensive, an unwelcome departure from traditional and preferred diets, socially isolating, and not effective enough to obviate the need for medications. These findings suggest the importance of culturally sensitive approaches to dietary improvements.

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