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Research Project: Childhood Obesity Prevention

Location: Children's Nutrition Research Center

Title: Culture and diet among Chinese American children aged 9–13 years: A qualitative study

Author
item Diep, Cassandra - CHILDREN'S NUTRITION RESEARCH CENTER (CNRC)
item Leung, Randall - BOSTON UNIVERSITY
item Thompson, Deborah - Debbe
item Gor, Beverly - CITY OF HOUSTON
item Baranowski, Tom - CHILDREN'S NUTRITION RESEARCH CENTER (CNRC)

Submitted to: Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 11/6/2016
Publication Date: 12/24/2016
Publication URL: http://handle.nal.usda.gov/10113/5605993
Citation: Diep, C.S., Leung, R., Thompson, D.J., Gor, B.J., Baranowski, T. 2016. Culture and diet among Chinese American children aged 9–13 years: A qualitative study. Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior. doi:10.1016/j.jneb.2016.11.002.

Interpretive Summary: Children of Chinese ancestry are one of the fastest growing ethnic groups in the US, and are experiencing higher rates of obesity the longer they remain in this country. This qualitative study assessed obesity related behaviors in relation to the children's acculturation status. Overall, participants described their diets and associated behaviors as Asian and non-Asian. Key themes included preference for Asian and non-Asian foods; consumption of non-Asian foods for breakfast and lunch, but Asian foods for dinner; infrequent dining at restaurants; grocery shopping at Asian and non-Asian stores; and familial influences on diet. Acculturated children and children of higher socioeconomic status appeared to prefer and consume a more Westernized/non-Asian diet. While it may be expected that arrivals to a Western culture will adopt behavioral patterns common in that culture, these adopted patterns predispose to obesity. Methods need to be identified or developed that prevent obesity whether by enhanced retention of old country customs, or identifying new bi-culturally acceptable patterns.

Technical Abstract: This study examined Chinese American children's behaviors, food preferences, and cultural influences on their diet. Qualitative individual interviews were conducted with twenty-five Chinese American children aged 9-13 years in community centers and Chinese schools in Houston, TX using constructs from the proposed model of dietary acculturation. Content analysis and thematic data analysis were used to identify code categories and themes. Coders also identified patterns based on demographic and acculturation factors. Overall, participants described their diets and associated behaviors as Asian and non-Asian. Key themes included preference for Asian and non-Asian foods; consumption of non-Asian foods for breakfast and lunch, but Asian foods for dinner; infrequent dining at restaurants; grocery shopping at Asian and non-Asian stores; and familial influences on diet. Acculturated children and children of higher socioeconomic status appeared to prefer and consume a more Westernized/non-Asian diet. Results illustrate that Chinese American children in this study practiced both Asian and non-Asian dietary behaviors. Findings corroborated existing acculturation research with parents and caregivers; supported constructs in the model of dietary acculturation; and provide guidance for research and programs related to dietary behaviors, determinants, and culture among this population.