248981 "I just grab what I can get..." Social and cultural factors that influence African American men's eating patterns

Monday, October 31, 2011: 2:48 PM

Alana Wooley, MS , Department of Health Behavior and Health Education, University of Michigan School of Public Health, Ann Arbor, MI
Derek Griffith, PhD , School of Public Health, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI
Julie Ober Allen, MPH , School of Public Health, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI
Over the last decade, obesity has increased significantly among African American men. This presentation describes how African American men conceptualize healthy and unhealthy eating, define different meals and consider the factors that influence their eating patterns. We conducted a thematic analysis of nine exploratory focus groups with 83 middle-aged, urban African American men in southeast Michigan. In these focus groups, men described healthy meals as ones that included vegetables, organic ingredients, salt substitutes, and poultry, and unhealthy meals as those that were fried and contained fatty meats and salty seasonings. Unhealthy foods were thought to taste better than healthy foods. Meals were defined as eating with others and including a protein source. Due to demanding weekday responsibilities, men reported skipping breakfast and either being too busy to eat lunch or eating fast food. They emphasized the importance of dinner with their spouse during the work week, which was described as usually a home-cooked, healthy meal. On weekends, many men reported that their spouses cooked less; they snacked more, and were more likely to dine out on unhealthy food than during the week. Sunday dinners involving favorite, unhealthy comfort foods were depicted as the highlight of men's weekend eating. Eating patterns differed during the week compared to the weekend and were shaped by time constraints, whether men's spouses cooked, busy work and family schedules, and the availability of healthy food at home. These findings provide insight into the social and cultural factors that influence African American men's eating patterns.

Learning Areas:
Diversity and culture
Public health or related research
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
1. Describe how African American men conceive of meals and describe healthy and unhealthy eating habits. 2. Discuss how time constraints, family and work responsibilities, and food preparation influence African American menís food consumption and meal content. 3. Assess the influence of gender, family, work and socio-cultural factors on efforts to improve African American menís eating patterns.

Keywords: Food and Nutrition, Male Health

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I conducted the thematic analysis of focus group data presented in this paper. My co-authors include the PI of the study and project director.
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.