Topical Area: Community and Public Health Nutrition
(P04-113-20) Generational Differences in Food Perception and the Risk of Chronic Disease Among Jamaican Immigrant Families Living in New York City
Objectives: A Quarter of all US-based Jamaicans live in New York City (NYC) (N=178,750). Compared to African Americans, Black Caribbeans experience lower rates of obesity (36% vs. 29%) and hypertension (38% vs 35%), but similar rates of diabetes (13% vs. 15%). Little is known about how diet and acculturation affect risk of chronic disease among Jamaican immigrants of different age groups. The aims of this study were to identify among three generations of Jamaicans living in NYC: a) how food experiences influence food perceptions and dietary behaviors; and b) how acculturation, social norms, socio-economic status and trans-national movements affect diet and risk of chronic disease.
Methods: Group and individual interviews with youth (n=10), parents (n=6) and grandparents (n=8) used open-ended questions, were recorded and lasted 45- 90 min. Participants received $20 gift cards as incentives. Recordings were transcribed, and analyzed using Dedoose 7.0.
Results: Three major themes emerged: Food perceptions and the concept of clean food impelled participants from all generations to consume a healthier diet consisting of more fresh fruits and vegetables and less processed foods. Among youth, remote acculturation to the US culture and global foods made it more acceptable to replace traditional home cooked foods with processed foods. Third, acculturation provided older Jamaican immigrants with easier access to healthcare and health education. The health advice provided by doctors, dietitians and other healthcare professionals was well respected and older Jamaicans reported high levels of compliance.
Conclusions: Among youth, early exposure to US culture and foods while living in Jamaica may increase future risk of chronic disease by making it more acceptable to replace cultural foods with American foods. Food perceptions and the concept of clean food play an important role in the way that Jamaicans of all ages think about, purchase and eat food. Truly valuing fruits and vegetables made adult Jamaican immigrants more receptive to health education and more likely to lower their risk of chronic disease.
Funding Sources: CUNY Graduate School of Public Health and Health Policy, Dean’s Dissertation Grant (Dissertation research support for author Horlyck-Romanovsky)
Brooklyn College Pomona, New York
Margrethe F. Horlyck-Romanovsky
Assistant Professor Brooklyn College Brooklyn, New York