Online Program

Cultural Beliefs, Perceptions and Practices of Young Adult Offspring of African Immigrants Regarding Healthy Eating and Activity

Monday, November 2, 2015

Abi Fapohunda, DrPH, MPH, MS, Public Health Services, FOB Group, LLC, Monroeville, PA
Melanie Turk, PhD, MSN, RN, Duquesne University School of Nursing, Pittsburgh, PA
Karen Jakub, PhD, RN, School of Nursing, Duquesne University, Pittsburgh, PA
Rick Zoucha, PhD, PMHCNS-BC, CTN-A, FAAN, School of Nursing, Duquesne University, Pittsburgh, PA
Background: An estimated 82% of the population increase between 2005 and 2050 will be attributable to immigrants and their descendants, yet little is known about offspring of African immigrants living in the U.S.  This study explored the beliefs, perceptions and practices of young adult offspring of African immigrants regarding what healthy eating and health activity is in the context of their environment and culture in the U.S.

Methods: Five small group interviews using a focused ethnography qualitative method were conducted with 20 offspring of African immigrants (11 Nigerians, 3 Ghanaians, and one each from Ethiopian, Cameroonian, Egyptian, Sudanese, Liberian, and Eritrean) who are college students between the ages of 18-23. All interviews were digitally recorded and transcribed, and emerging analyses (comprised of categories, patterns and themes) was used.

Results: Majority of the participants were Nigerian (55%), female (70%), and had lived in the U.S. their entire life (80%). Four themes emerged from the interviews: (1) Embracing both American and African food, (2) African foods at the center of celebrations, (3) Positive healthy perceptions of African foods, and (4) Influences of parents and peers related to diet and exercise habits.

Conclusion: We concluded that African food for the offspring African immigrants was an emotional connection to community, family, and home, yet they have acquired both American and African eating habits. Cultural perceptions should be taken into consideration when developing future health interventions targeting young adult offspring of African immigrants residing in the U.S

Learning Areas:

Diversity and culture
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs
Public health or related research
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Describe the importance of cultural context in promoting healthy behavior among the offspring of African immigrants Describe the importance of traditional African food to offspring of African immigrants Identify the role of parents and peers in influencing eating and exercise habits

Keyword(s): Immigrant Health, Underserved 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.