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Open Access African-American Views of Food Choices and Use of Traditional Foods

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This article is Open Access under the terms of the Creative Commons CC BY-NC-ND licence.

Objectives: In this study, we describe dietary intakes and examine variation among African-American adults in the Southwest, and identify barriers to engaging in healthy dietary behaviors, and use of traditional African-American foods, including pulses. Methods: Using mixed-methods parallel analysis, 97 African Americans aged 25-60 years completed surveys on lifestyle and dietary habits prior to focus group discussions in 3 geographic regions of Arizona. We identified themes in the qualitative transcripts using an inductive approach informed by Grounded Theory. Survey data were compared by sex, and age cohort via chi-square and ANOVA. Results: Qualitative knowledge of healthy choices was high for most participants, but survey dietary in-takes were below recommendations for fruit, vegetables, fiber, and pulses. Greens, fried chicken and fish, barbequed meats, okra-corn-tomato mix, grits, and sweet potatoes were eaten at least twice a month by 30%-50%. Statistically significant food consumption differences were observed by sex, age, and income. Healthy eating barriers included cost, access, convenience or time to prepare, accessibility, and cultural preferences and traditions. Interest in food preparation education was a common theme. Conclusions: Arizona African Americans retain elements of traditional foods in their diet. Health education should offer practical solutions for the cited barriers, be culturally relevant, and build on existing knowledge.

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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Donna M. Winham, Assistant Professor, Department of Food Science & Human Nutrition, Iowa State University, Ames, IA, United States;, Email: [email protected] 2: Simon T. Knoblauch, Research Assistant, Department of Food Science & Human Nutrition, Iowa State University, Ames, IA, United States 3: Michelle M. Heer, Research Associate, Department of Food Science & Human Nutrition, Iowa State University, Ames, IA, United States 4: Sharon V. Thompson, Graduate Research Fellow, Division of Nutritional Sciences, University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign, Urbana, IL, United States 5: Cheryl Der Ananian, College of Health Solutions, Associate Professor, Arizona State University, Phoenix, AZ, United States

Publication date: November 1, 2020

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  • The American Journal of Health Behavior seeks to improve the quality of life through multidisciplinary health efforts in fostering a better understanding of the multidimensional nature of both individuals and social systems as they relate to health behaviors.

    The Journal aims to provide a comprehensive understanding of the impact of personal attributes, personality characteristics, behavior patterns, social structure, and processes on health maintenance, health restoration, and health improvement; to disseminate knowledge of holistic, multidisciplinary approaches to designing and implementing effective health programs; and to showcase health behavior analysis skills that have been proven to affect health improvement and recovery.

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