Academic journal article American Journal of Health Education

Dietary and Built Environment Assessment in a Latino Community

Academic journal article American Journal of Health Education

Dietary and Built Environment Assessment in a Latino Community

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT

Background: Assessment of basic dietary intake and community nutrition environment is lacking and needed to improve health outcomes for the growing U.S. Latino community. Purpose: The dietary intake and community nutrition environment of a Latino population in the Midwest was evaluated. Methods: In a community clinic, Block Food Frequency Screeners in Spanish were administered to measure daily fruit, vegetable and fat intake. The community nutrition environment, specifically store outlets, was evaluated on the basis of availability, price and quality of foods using Nutrition Environment Measurement Surveys-Stores (NEM S-S). Results: The adult Latino community's fruit, vegetable, and fat intake is considered "good," except adult males exhibited a "fair" consumption of fat. NEMS-S revealed a good availability and quality of "healthy" food options in the stores, but reported higher prices, on average, for "healthy" options. Discussion: Dietary intake may reflect a community in transition from a predominantly Mexican to a standard American diet. Additional built environment assessment tools should be administered, and those that capture more of the diverse eating practices should be considered for future research, such as the NEMS-Texas survey which was developed for a predominantly Latino population in Texas. Translation to Health Education Practice: The study data are being used and adopted by other social service organizations and to inform health policy makers in Milwaukee. Future directives for research should include dietary assessments that include food items from diverse culinary traditions that more accurately capture dietary intake in United States urban settings. The newer Texas NEMS that includes all fruits and vegetables, may be better suited for urban populations nationally that may have access to fruits and vegetables from around the globe.

Khan S, Calloway SA, Maida T, Rakel DP. Dietary and built environment assessment in a Latino community. Am J Health Educ. 2012;43(2):74-82. Submitted May 19, 2011. Accepted August 18, 2011.

BACKGROUND

Data show that low-income areas and communities of color suffer the highest rates of obesity. For instance, adult obesity rates for blacks and Latinos were higher than for whites in at least 40 states and the District of Columbia. (1) The 2010 United States Census counted 50.5 million Latinos in the United States, making up 16.3% of the total population, a 43% growth over the last decade. The report from the Trust for America's Health recognizes racial, ethnic, regional and income disparities in the nation's obesity epidemic. Latinos in Milwaukee, Wisconsin are now 12% of the population based on a total population of 95,9521. (2) According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 27.3% of Wisconsin's Latino population is obese, second only to non-Latino blacks. (3)

Two community health clinics that serve the Latino community--located in the historic Walker's Point on the south side of Milwaukee, Wisconsin where the first Latinos arrived in the 1920s--are CORE/El Centro (CORE) and Aurora Walker's Point

Community Clinics (WPCC). Sharing the same clinic waiting room, CORE provides individuals of all incomes access to natural healing therapies and since 1994, WPCC has provided free standard health care for the homeless, underserved and uninsured. The majority of patients the clinic serves are of Mexican or Mexican-American descent. Both CORE and WPCC want to improve the quality of health education they provide, particularly as it relates to nutrition and weight management.

CORE and WPCC measured fruit, vegetable and fat intake using culturally appropriate evaluation tools for dietary assessment because there is a dearth of public health data, specifically as it relates to basic dietary intake, on the growing Latino population. (4) Block Food Frequency Screeners in Spanish (FFQs) are standard dietary assessment tools developed to rapidly evaluate individual dietary intake while focusing on predominantly Spanish-speaking individuals and their eating practices in a community clinic setting. …

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