Changes of Dietary Pattern, Food Choice, Food Consumption, Nutrient Intake and Body Mass Index of Korean American College Students with Different Length of Residence in the Los Angeles Areas

Article excerpt

This study was to investigate how dietary pattern, food choice, food consumption, nutrient intake and body mass index (BMI) vary with length of residence for Korean American college students. The respondents were 60 Korean American residents living in the Los Angeles Area. They were divided into two groups based on the length of stay in the U.S.: low acculturated Korean Americans (LAK, n=23, average length of residency: 4.10 [+ or -] 2.92 years) and high acculturated Korean Americans (HAK, n=37, average length of residency: 16.97 [+ or -] 5.86 years). A food frequency questionnaire and one day food record were used and analyzed based on the levels of acculturation and of gender.

Using the Food Guide Pyramid System, the results indicated the HAK had consumed more foods in the grain servings (5.89 [+ or -] 3.30 vs. 5.30 [+ or -] 3.05), vegetable servings (8.57 [+ or -] 8.01 vs. 7.04 [+ or -] 6.80), fruit servings (4.68 [+ or -] 6.16 vs. 3.87 [+ or -] 5.21), dairy servings (2.46 [+ or -] 2.56 vs. 2.30 [+ or -] 3.20) and meat servings (6.46 [+ or -] 6.10 vs. 5.04 [+ or -] 6.46) than those of LAK, respectively. The HAK tended to consume significantly more raw vegetable salad (1.92 [+ or -] 1.32 vs. 1.00 [+ or -] 0.0) than those of LAK. It is noteworthy that female groups from both HAK and LAK consumed higher total numbers of servings of foods than their male counterparts. Both groups consumed excessive amounts of sodium and had inadequate intakes of calcium.

The HAK weighted more (66.33 [+ or -] 19.73 vs. 60.99 [+ or -] 12.56 Kg) and had significantly higher BMI (23.8 [+ or -] 5.76 vs. 21.97 [+ or -] 2.60 Kg/[M.sup.2]) than those of LAK. The averaged BMI of the HAK (23.8) was closed to the World Health Organization (WHO) which set BMI of 23 as cutoff for Asians for being overweight. The HAK consumed more numbers of servings of all food groups (28.05 [+ or -] 21.71 vs. 23.6 [+ or -] 21.25) and calories (1928.52 [+ or -] 628.11 vs. 1648.56 [+ or -] 540.53) a day than those of LAK. The HAK consumed more Western foods such as bread, bagel, cookies, tortilla, hamburger bun, egg, hot dog, bacon, ham, peanut butter than those of LAK, although they consumed relatively more vegetables and fruits than those of LAK. This may be due to acculturation of consumption of the Western foods and thus lead to why the high-acculturated Korean Americans were having more weight and higher BMI. Further nutritional education for this group to control body weight that obesity and its related diseases such as Type II diabetes, cancer and cardiovascular disease can be avoided.

Statement of Problem

America is a country of immigrants. Korean Americans represent one of the fastest growing Asian American groups in the USA; their population has more than doubled during the past decade (U.S. Department of Commerce, 2001). According to a recent census conducted by the Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 2,057,546 Koreans lived in the USA in December 1999 (Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 2000). California has the largest numbers of Korean Americans.

Acculturation is a process of intercultural borrowing, marked by the continuous transmission of traits and elements between diverse peoples, and results in new and blended patterns (Gove et al., 1993). Culture changes resulting from contact among various societies over time. Contact may have distinct results, such as the borrowing of certain traits by one culture from another, or the relative fusion of separate cultures. Acculturation has been shown to influence the dietary habits of immigrants by the retention of or changes in the intakes of foods and nutrients (Kaiser et al., 2001). Migrant studies of first and second generation immigrants to the USA show that acculturation to a Western lifestyle appear to result in an increase in morbidity and mortality from many degenerative diseases (Parker et al., 1998). Moreover, the increased intake of total energy, fat and sucrose and decreased intake of total and complex carbohydrates, including fiber, have been reported to play a role in the etiology of the degenerative diseases in migrant population studies (Reed et al. …