Dietary Behaviors and Nutrition Knowledge among South Asians
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South Asians have 2-4 times higher risk of heart disease than Caucasians, African Americans, and Hispanics and India has the highest number of individuals with type 2 diabetes. National studies on South Asians chronic disease prevalence, nutrition knowledge, and dietary patterns are limited in the U.S. since all Asian subgroups are aggregated into the "Asian" category. These are particularly important for South Asians because their genetic predisposition and acculturation into the westernized lifestyle after immigration increases their risk for chronic diseases. The objectives of the study were to focus on various factors that influence dietary patterns and changes that increase the risk of diet-related diseases and general nutrition knowledge of South Asians living in the U.S. The data were collected using a survey questionnaire on dietary habits, nutrition knowledge and health of 105 South Asians (men=58, women=47). The mean age and Body Mass Index (BMI) of the participants was about 24 years and 22.8 +/- 3.5 kg/m^2 respectively. On average, respondents scored moderately on dietary habits scale. Participants reported an increase in weight after coming to the U.S. The top 3 barriers to eating healthy were "not a priority", "busy lifestyle" and "healthy foods not tasting as good." The top 3 motivators for healthy eating were "losing weight", "prevention of diseases", and "ability to find quick healthy recipes." The nutrition knowledge was assessed by qualitative and quantitative measures .Approximately half of the participants reported avoiding junk, incorporating low fat, low sugar, more vegetables, fruits and increased intake of water. Furthermore, obese individuals scored better on dietary behavior scale as compared to their peers. The multivariate regression model was significant (df=13, F=2.980, R2 =0.356, P<0.002) for Nutrition Behaviors of South Asians and 35.6% of the variance in nutrition behavior was explained by the variables in the model. Nutrition Behavior was significantly and positively related to use of food labels and BMI. With the current emphasis on cultural competency and providing culturally appropriate health services, results from this study can help to develop strategies to prevent diseases using nutritional strategies and to promote a general healthy life style among this educated South Asian group.
Qamar, Zubaida (2011). Dietary Behaviors and Nutrition Knowledge among South Asians. Master's thesis, Texas A&M University. Available electronically from