Studies examining the prevalence of cardiometabolic diseases in African immigrants show that they are healthier on arrival to the U.S., but develop worse risk profiles closer to that of the general population when they live 10 years or longer in the country. This change has been attributed to dietary acculturation.
To explore contextual factors associated with changes in dietary behaviors of recent immigrant families from Nigeria and Congo.
Study Design, Setting, Participants
Five online focus group interviews were conducted with recent Nigerian and Congolese immigrant adults (n = 20; Female = 19, Male = 1). Three focus groups were conducted in English and 2 were conducted in French. Most of participants (70%, n = 14) completed the voluntary demographics survey. On average, participants were 42 years old and had 4 children. Educationally, most had at least a bachelor's degree (72%). Participants were recruited from churches with large population of African immigrants and through leaders of the immigrant communities from the Midwest. Participants discussed dietary practices for their families, including the challenges of maintaining a healthy diet after immigration to the U.S.
Preliminary findings from the ongoing thematic analysis are reported.
Participants had high level of awareness of the influence of healthy food choices on risk factors for cardiometabolic diseases. The majority had the perception of “American food” as unhealthy, characterizing them as containing a high amount of sugar and salt. All participants preferred and mostly consumed foods they were familiar with before migration, including traditional African meals. Participants had several misconceptions regarding the nutritional value of certain food products. They reported that their school-age kids preferred Americanized over the traditional African meals. Participants and community leaders demonstrated high level of interest in receiving educational resources to make healthier food choices.
The findings will help to develop culturally tailored interventions to reduce diet-related risks associated with cardiometabolic diseases.