Submitted to: Journal of Nutrition Education
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 2/1/2001
Publication Date: 7/1/2001
Citation: Yadrick, M.K., Horton, J., Stuff, J., Mcgee, B., Bogle, M.L., Davis, L., Forrester, I., Strickland, E., Casey, P., Ryan, D., Champagne, C., Mellad, K., Neal, E., Zaghloul, S. 2001. Perceptions of community nutrition and health needs in the Lower Mississippi Delta: A key informant approach. Journal of Nutrition Education. 33:266-277. Interpretive Summary: The Lower Mississippi Delta (LMD) of Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi is one of the most disadvantaged regions of the United States. The limited data available on the health and nutrition status in this predominately rural, traditionally agricultural area indicate high rates of chronic disease morbidity and mortality and nutritional deficits. In response to the distinct food and nutrition related needs in this region the Lower Mississippi Delta Nutrition Intervention Research Initiative was established to design, implement and evaluate nutrition interventions directed at improving the health and well being of LMD residents. Planning for nutrition interventions must be based on understanding the community and involvement of community leaders. A study was conducted to assess key informants' perceptions of nutrition and health needs in their southern rural communities. A total of 490 key informants representing 8 community sectors in 36 counties/parishes in Arkansas, Louisiana, and Mississippi were interviewed and responded to a standardized questionnaire with categorical responses. Consumption of high fat foods and fast foods were seen as the most important nutrition problems, and high blood pressure and teen pregnancy as the most important health problems. Multiple contributing factors to health and nutrition problems were reported including poverty, lack of exercise, lack of nutrition and health knowledge and inadequate health insurance. This information is important in the planning and implementation of successful sustainable nutrition interventions in this rural disadvantaged population.
Technical Abstract: Objective: Key informants' perceptions of nutrition and health needs in their southern rural communities were assessed prior to nutrition intervention planning. Design: This cross-sectional survey used in'person interviews. Subjects/Settings: A sample of 490 individuals from 12 professional and lay roles in 8 community sectors in 36 counties in Arkansas, Louisiana, and Mississippi was chosen. Statistical Analyses Performed: Factor analysis was carried out on reported food, nutrition, and health problems and contributing factors. The General Linear Models procedure identified within- and between-subject effects for factors. Tukey's post hoc tests identified differences between sectors and states. Frequencies and weighted rankings were computed for health problems. Result: Key informants rated individual-level factors (food choices, education, willingness to change, health behavior) as more important than community-level factors (food and health care access, resources) with regard to nutrition and health problems and contributors to problems. The number one health problem was hypertension. Implications: Key informants are knowledgeable about nutrition and health problems, contributing factors, and available resources. Individual factors were perceived as more important contributors to nutrition and health problems providing valuable information for planning nutrition interventions.