Relationship between diet and acculturation among South Asian children living in Canada
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INTRODUCTION: Diet and South Asian ethnicity are both associated with early onset of cardiovascular risk factors. Among youth of South Asian origin, little is known about the role of culture in determining healthy dietary patterns. We aimed to assess dietary patterns and their relationships with acculturation to Western and traditional lifestyles among South Asian youth in Canada. METHODS: The Research in Cardiovascular Health - Lifestyles, Environments and Genetic Attributes in Children and Youth (RICH LEGACY) study targeted South Asian children and adolescents aged 7-8 and 14-15 years in two Canadian cities. In this cross-sectional study, acculturation questionnaires and food frequency questionnaires were administered to assess the correlations between Western and traditional culture scores, immigration status (generation and length of residency) in Canada and intake frequency of various foods. RESULTS: Among 759 youth, those who ate fruits and vegetables more often consumed dairy and whole grains more often (all r = 0.17-0.22, all p < 0.001), while those who ate fast food more often consumed meat, sweets and sugared drinks more often (all r 0.24-0.38, all p < 0.001). Traditional culture scores were weakly positively correlated with whole grain intake frequency (r = 0.12, p = 0.001), and negatively with meat intake frequency (r = -0.14, p < 0.001). Western culture scores positively correlated with high intake frequency of meat (r = 0.23, p < 0.001), fast food (r = 0.14, p < 0.001) and sweets (r = 0.14, p < 0.001). DISCUSSION: Children who are more acculturated with Western lifestyle consumed foods associated with increased metabolic risk. However, whether this eating pattern translates into increased risk of obesity and cardiovascular diseases needs to be further explored.
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