Culture and Diet Among Chinese American Children Aged 9–13 Years: A Qualitative Study

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Abstract

Objective:

To examine Chinese American children's behaviors, food preferences, and cultural influences on their diet.

Design:

Qualitative individual interviews using constructs from the proposed model of dietary acculturation.

Setting:

Community centers and Chinese schools in Houston, TX.

Participants:

Twenty-five Chinese American children aged 9–13 years.

Phenomenon of Interest:

Diet, favorite restaurants, and parents' cooking and grocery shopping habits.

Analysis:

Content analysis and thematic data analysis to identify code categories and themes. Coders also identified patterns based on demographic and acculturation factors.

Results:

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.

Conclusions and Implications:

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.

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