196226 Surfing the "Food Web": Minorities' Barriers to Participating in Internet-Based Nutritional Programs

Sunday, November 8, 2009

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
Ming-Chin Yeh, PhD , Urban Public Health Program, Hunter College, CUNY, New York City, NY
Carol Roye, EdD, RN , School of Nursing, Hunter College, Hunter College, New York, NY
Background and Study Design

Barriers to Internet access have been found among older members of minority groups in the US, particularly among Latinos and African Americans. This finding contrasts with minority children's overall familiarity with Internet resources. A focus group study was designed to examine the potential role of minority undergraduate students as informal recruiters of their adult relatives into internet-based nutrition interventions. The particular aims of the study were to examine: 1) Study participants' perceptions of their parents' barriers to Internet use, and 2) the likelihood of engaging their parents into an internet-based nutrition intervention.

Results and Findings

The study recruited two focus groups (N=13) with Black and Hispanic students between the ages of 18 and 25, who lived at home with their parents. All participants reported having an Internet connection at home and acting as “technical support” aids for their parents. Most participants expressed interest in assisting their parents to reduce their risk for obesity, diabetes and hypertension; and in recruiting them to participate in a culturally competent web-nutrition program in the language of choice (e.g., Spanish). Students also stressed the high-caloric contents of most ethnic foods, and the potential usefulness of the Internet in teaching minority families how to prepare healthier foods without losing their traditional taste, flavor and texture.


Given the reported importance of the Internet as a health tool in nutrition education, enhancing minorities' access to web-designed health interventions could lead to healthier life styles, including curbing the obesity epidemic among these populations.

Learning Objectives:
By the end of the session, participants will be able to: 1. List three barriers that keep minority populations from becoming familiar with internet-based nutrition programs in the US. 2. Describe ways to address these barriers by using alternative internet-based approaches to health interventions. 3. Articulate the rationale for health messages aimed at promoting the use of the Internet to disseminate nutrition interventions in culturally appropriate ways.

Keywords: Education, Internet Tools

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have conducted research, based on mixed-methods instruments, on immigrants and minorities' barriers to internet-based educational programs on healthy eating and weight-control.
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.