Online Program

Cultural perceptions of Arab American Muslim parents about healthy eating and activity for their school-age children

Monday, November 2, 2015

Abi Fapohunda, DrPH, MPH, MS, Public Health Services, FOB Group, LLC, Monroeville, PA
Jason Flatt, PhD, MPH, MCHES, Behavioral and Community Health Sciences, University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health, Pittsburgh, PA
Khlood Salman, Dr.PH, MSN, BSN, RN, School of Nursing, Duquesne University, Pittsburgh, PA
Rick Zoucha, PhD, PMHCNS-BC, CTN-A, FAAN, School of Nursing, Duquesne University, Pittsburgh, PA
Background: Arab Americans are one of the fastest growing immigrant populations in the U.S.  Little is known about the health and lifestyle behaviors of Arab American Muslim parents and their children. The purpose of this study was to explore the cultural and religious perceptions, values and beliefs of Arab American Muslim parents or guardians of school-age children (ages 11-14) about healthy eating and physical activity. We also aimed to determine the potential role of health care professionals in promoting culturally congruent healthful behaviors in this population.

Methods: A focused ethnographic approach was used. Thirty-two Arab American Muslim parents and guardians from the Northeastern U.S. were recruited. Data were collected using focus group interviews at schools and community settings. Leininger’s four phases of qualitative data analysis were used to analyze the focus group transcripts and field notes.

Results: The majority of the participants were female (66%), married (90%), and employed outside the home (50%), average age (44 years) and average years lived in the United States (18 years). Four themes were identified: homemade meals are healthier, parents are responsible for children’s health habits, positive and negative environmental influences affect children’s health habits, and cultural beliefs conflict with American customs.

Conclusions: Results from this study suggest that it is necessary to develop targeted, culturally-tailored interventions for school-aged Arab American children aimed at reducing obesity. This intervention should incorporate technological resources, educate and train healthcare professionals and teachers, and garner support from parents.

Learning Areas:

Diversity and culture
Implementation of health education strategies, interventions and programs
Public health or related research
Social and behavioral sciences
Systems thinking models (conceptual and theoretical models), applications related to public health

Learning Objectives:
Describe the importance of immigrants cultural context in promoting healthy behavior Describe the importance of eating healthy traditional diets and adoption of healthy habits Identify the role of healthcare providers in achieving the stated objectives

Keyword(s): Immigrant Health, Vulnerable Populations

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am a trained epidemiologist, health educator and a passionate advocate of improving the health of immigrants. I was the principal investigator (PI) for the immigrant study that examined Arab Americans’ perceptions of healthy eating and physical activity; the Co-PI on another study investigating African immigrants’ perceptions and practices around healthy eating and physical activity through photovoice. I spent the last 14 years as an independent consultant conducting various needs assessments and program evaluations.
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.