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Matern Child Nutr. 2017 Oct;13(4). doi: 10.1111/mcn.12401. Epub 2016 Dec 5.

Dietary patterns in Liberian refugees in Buduburam, Ghana.

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Department of Epidemiology of Microbial Diseases, Yale School of Public Health, New Haven, Connecticut, USA.
Boston University School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts, USA.
Buduburam Nutrition Program, Ghana.
Department of Nutrition and Food Science, University of Ghana, Legon, Ghana.
Department of Chronic Disease Epidemiology, Yale School of Public Health, New Haven, Connecticut, USA.


Previous research suggests that acculturation (i.e., exposure and assimilation to local culture) is associated with changes in dietary patterns among immigrants. This study investigates this association in a refugee population using time in refugee settlement as a proxy for acculturation. A cross-sectional survey was conducted among a systematic sample to (a) identify dietary patterns in Liberian refugees and Ghanaians living in or near a refugee settlement, (b) compare adherence to these dietary patterns between groups, and (c) investigate the association between acculturation and dietary patterns in Liberian refugees. Participants were Liberian and Ghanaian women with young children living in the Buduburam refugee settlement or Awutu in Ghana (n = 480; 50% Liberian; mean age 28, SD 6.3, range 16-48 years). Time in settlement was assessed by self-report; food consumption was assessed by food frequency questionnaire. Principal component analysis was used to identify dietary patterns; a generalized linear model was used to test the association of interest. Three distinct dietary patterns emerged: Healthy, Sweets, and Fats. Ghanaians were more adherent to the Healthy pattern than Liberians (p < 0.05). Liberians were more adherent to the Sweets and Fats patterns than Ghanaians (p < 0.05). There were no significant differences in dietary pattern adherence among the Liberians based on time in settlement. Ghanaians living in Awutu were more adherent to the Healthy pattern than Ghanaians who lived in settlement (p < 0.05). Differences in dietary patterns were observed between Liberian refugees and Ghanaians. These differences were not associated with acculturation and may be related to the food environment in the settlement.


Ghana; Liberia; West Africa; acculturation; dietary patterns; refugees

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