ABSTRACT

Culturally Appropriate Methods to Promote Nutrition Education among Black African Americans

Nutrition education has shifted from the emphasis of didactic talk to mothers to using participatory methods and a range of communication channels. Sensitivity to cultural differences in ourselves and in those of different ethnic backgrounds is an important aspect of competence in reaching a diverse population particularly in nutrition education. Nutrition educators will now be evaluated on their ability to produce desirable behavioral changes in clients from different culture.

This project aimed to identify the strategies to effective nutrition education programs among Black African Americans. A survey was conducted with 55 nutrition educators with diverse cultural backgrounds to assess their perception of another culture’s traditional food. In addition, a focus group was conducted with 8 African Americans women in the Tri-county area of the Lower Eastern Shore of Maryland.  A structured questionnaire was used. Qualitative and quantitative data analysis were conducted.

The results indicated that approximately 80% of the nutrition educators were ethnocentric. An effective nutrition education program might take into consideration the nutrition educator’s experiences, attitudes, values, and biases that could influence nutrition education; a knowledge of the participants’ cultural eating patterns, family traditions such as core foods, traditional celebrations, taste and flavor, and the meaning of food and health is needed. Overall, a knowledge of the socio-cultural context of food, and the ability to incorporate these into the teaching methodologies may promote desirable health and behavior changes needed.

Key words: Nutrition Education, diverse cultural backgrounds, nutrition education programs

Virginie Zoumenou, Ph.D., CNS, LDN

Professor of Dietetics and Nutrition

University of Maryland Eastern Shore

 

This project aimed to identify the strategies to effective nutrition education programs among Black African Americans. A survey was conducted with 55 nutrition educators with diverse cultural backgrounds to assess their perception of another culture’s traditional food. In addition, a focus group was conducted with 8 African Americans women in the Tri-county area of the Lower Eastern Shore of Maryland.  A structured questionnaire was used. Qualitative and quantitative data analysis were conducted.

The results indicated that approximately 80% of the nutrition educators were ethnocentric. An effective nutrition education program might take into consideration the nutrition educator’s experiences, attitudes, values, and biases that could influence nutrition education; a knowledge of the participants’ cultural eating patterns, family traditions such as core foods, traditional celebrations, taste and flavor, and the meaning of food and health is needed. Overall, a knowledge of the socio-cultural context of food, and the ability to incorporate these into the teaching methodologies may promote desirable health and behavior changes needed.

Key words: Nutrition Education, diverse cultural backgrounds, nutrition education programs

 

Virginie Zoumenou, Ph.D., CNS, LDN

Professor of Dietetics and Nutrition

University of Maryland Eastern Shore