177339 Addressing Latinas' double jeopardies: The challenge of "nostalgic foods" in promoting healthy eating patterns in the US

Monday, October 27, 2008: 11:00 AM

Anahi Viladrich, PhD , Immigration and Health Initiative, Urban Public Health Program, The School of Health Sciences, The Schools of the Health Professions, Hunter College of the City University of New York, New York, NY
Dana David, MPH , Immigration and Health Initiative, Urban Public Health Program, The School of Health Sciences, The Schools of the Health Professions, Hunter College of the City University of New York, New York, NY
Ming-Chin Yeh, PhD , Urban Public Health Program, Hunter College, CUNY, New York City, NY
Nancy Bruning, MPH , Immigration and Health Initiative, Urban Public Health Program, Hunter College, City University of New York, New York City, NY
Goals

A growing literature on nostalgic foods has focused on immigrants' nutritional choices and consumption patterns based on their cultural and emotional significance. This presentation will ask: How are Latina immigrants' dietary patterns influenced by nostalgic foods?i.e., We explore Latinas' food choices and eating habits before and after migration, as well as the barriers they encounter to engaging in healthy behaviors in the US.

Methods

Six focus groups of self-identified Latinas in New York City addressed their food preferences and eating patterns in both their countries of origin and in the US. Individual instruments included a sociodemographic profile, a self-assessment of weight and physical activity, and a body image scale.

Results

Participants acknowledged the double effect of nostalgic foods on their current eating patterns: consumption of high-caloric foods (e.g., fried chicken and plantains) and their counterbalance with fruits and vegetables. The migration process strengthens the first and weakens the second. Although Latinas reported the practice of using fresh sources of food in their home countries, the abundance of cheap fast food chains reinforced their replacement by less healthy choices in the US. Some familiar items (e.g., rice) serve as comfort foods in stressful moments and present issues for portion control.

Conclusions

The importance of promoting healthy habits among immigrants calls for a better understanding of both the negative and positive impact of nostalgic foods in Latinas' post-migration eating patterns, and highlights the importance of education on how to replace high calorie ingredients in order to promote a healthier diet.

Learning Objectives:
1. List three factors that may contribute to overeating/poor food choices among Latinas. 2. Propose strategies to introduce substitutions of high calorie ingredients to traditional home country dishes.

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I was an investigator on the study.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.