Academic journal article The Sport Journal

Dietary Habits of African Canadian Women: A Sampled Survey

Academic journal article The Sport Journal

Dietary Habits of African Canadian Women: A Sampled Survey

Article excerpt

Introduction

Many health professionals agree that the most significant and controllable risk factor affecting long-term health and well-being is diet. Indeed, the first steps commonly suggested for improving health and longevity are lifestyle changes like lowering salt intake, reducing total fat/saturated fat in our diets, increasing fibre intake and fruit and vegetable consumption, and integrating regular exercise into our daily routine. Without a doubt, there are countless benefits to adopting healthy eating habits. It is troubling then that studies in the United States examining dietary behaviors among minority women find that compared with European American women, African American women practice poorer dietary habits. In a number of recent studies for example, African American women were shown to consume less fruits and vegetables, and to eat more foods that were high in sodium and/or fat (1-3). The American Heart Association's 2009 Heart Disease and Stroke Statistical Update (4) reported that on average, only three to five percent of adult African Americans consumed the recommended three or more daily servings of whole grains, only six to nine percent consumed four or more daily servings of fruit and only five to ten percent consumed five or more daily servings of vegetables.

Research also suggests that poor eating habits are a significant risk factor in the development of chronic illnesses (5) and are known to act as precursors for other risk factors, especially being overweight or obese (4). Not surprisingly then, poor nutrition among African American women is believed to contribute to the higher incidences of diabetes, hypertension and cardiovascular diseases they experience in comparison to White American women. Until minority women's dietary habits are improved they will continue to be plagued by nutrition related illnesses.

Current literature provides limited explanation as to why African American women have poor dietary practices. What is known from the research is that health disparities, such as lack of access to proper preventative care, stressful lifestyles, lack of education about nutrition, inadequate housing, lower income and the lack of health insurance in the United States, are all believed to be factors in poor health outcomes among African Americans (6). The ongoing disparity in well-being between African Americans and their fellow citizens suggests further efforts are required to identify and implement appropriate strategies to improve this group's nutritional and overall health status. This study aimed to contribute to this effort by surveying African Canadian women to explore both their eating habits and their perceptions of nutrition. The results of this study provide useful information for health care practitioners and educators seeking to improve health among minority populations.

Methods

Participant Recruitment

The targeted participant group for this study were Canadian women of African ancestry who were 25 years of age or older. The recruitment process involved approaching African Canadian women in shopping malls, medical centers, universities/colleges and churches, providing them with a brief overview of the survey, and inviting them to participate. Those women who agreed to participate were given a consent form to read and sign. Recruitment was not stratified by socioeconomic status as many participants refused to fill out the survey or answer the open-ended question if their income, marital status or educational background was required. After one month of recruitment, 50 African Canadian women agreed to participate in the study.

Survey implementation

Each participant was given a written questionnaire to complete. On average, the questionnaire took participants approximately two minutes to finish. Participants were then asked an open-ended question and a digital recorder was employed to record their responses. This oral portion of the survey took approximately one and a half minutes to complete. …

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