Submitted to: American Journal of Public Health
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: February 10, 1998
Publication Date: November 17, 1998
Technical Abstract: Nutrition intervention planning in communities must be based on an understanding of nutrition needs and resources. To assess perceptions of nutrition and health needs and resources, the Delta Nutrition Intervention Research Initiative interviewed key informants in 36 counties in the lower Mississippi delta region of Arkansas, Louisiana, and Mississippi. Two key informants were selected from each of seven predetermined sectors according to the Haglund model (Brucht.1990): these sectors were health education, government, business, religion, voluntary organizations, informal leadership, and lay representatives. A questionnaire developed to elicit perceptions of nutrition and health problems was pretested, revised, and administered to key informants by personal interview. Among the 490 key informants, 97% identified consumption of high fat foods and 94% identified consumption of too much fast food as nutrition concerns in their counties. Poverty, lack of education, and unwillingness to change were seen as major contributors to these problems by 94%, 92%, and 92% of key informants, respectively. Key informants ranked hypertension, teen pregnancy, drug addiction, and heart disease in that order, as the most important health problems. Lack of exercise, poor food choices, and inadequate health insurance were seen as major factors contributing to health problems by 98%, 95%, and 91% of key informants. Data from this key informant survey demonstrate that perceptions of nutrition and health problems reflect the values and concerns of the local community, and may differ from monitoring data on prevalence of problems. These results will help guide future planning for interventions to improve nutrition and health status of Delta residents.