Cultural Beliefs, Perceptions, and Practices of Young Adult Offspring of African Immigrants Regarding Healthy Eating and Activity

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Abstract

Introduction: African immigrants and their offspring are increasing in the United States. Yet little is known about the beliefs, perceptions, and practices of second-generation African immigrants regarding healthy eating and physical activities within the context of culture and environment. Method: Five small group interviews using a focused ethnography qualitative method were conducted with 20 college-age students who were offspring of African immigrants. Data were analyzed using Leininger’s four phases of analysis. Results: Four themes emerged: (1) family, community, and religious ties to traditional African foods; (2) traditional African cuisine as healthy and american foods as nonhealthy; (3) eating patterns vary according to availability and resources; and (4) exercise patterns have familial, peer-driven, and generational influences. Discussion: African food was a connection to family and the African community. Food choices and activities were strongly influenced by accessibility, social structures, and the environment. Dietary and activity-based interventions should include both American and African influences.

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