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Ethn Health. 1996 Sep;1(3):245-60.

Cultural aspects of African American eating patterns.

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  • 1Health Education Department, College of Health and Human Development, Pennsylvania State University, University Park 16802, USA.

Abstract

The high mortality from diet-related diseases among African Americans strongly suggests a need to adopt diets lower in total fat, saturated fat and salt and higher in fiber. However, such changes would be contrary to some traditional African American cultural practices. Focus group interviews were used to explore cultural aspects of eating patterns among low- and middle-income African Americans recruited from an urban community in Pennsylvania. In total, 21 males and 32 females, aged 13-65+ years were recruited using a networking technique. Participants identified eating practices commonly attributed to African Americans and felt that these were largely independent of socioeconomic status. They were uncertain about links between African American eating patterns and African origins but clear about influences of slavery and economic disadvantage. The perception that African American food patterns were characteristically adaptive to external conditions, suggest that, for effective dietary change in African American communities, changes in the food availability will need to precede or take place in parallel with changes recommended to individuals. Cultural attitudes about where and with whom food is eaten emerged as being equivalent in importance to attitudes about specific foods. These findings emphasize the importance of continued efforts to identify ways to increase the relevance of cultural context and meanings in dietary counseling so that health and nutrition interventions are anchored in values as perceived, in this case, by African Americans.

PMID:
9395569
DOI:
10.1080/13557858.1996.9961793
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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