Lv N, Brown JL., J Nutr Educ Behav. 42(2):106-14. doi: 10.1016/j.jneb.2009.04.005., 2010 Mar 01
OBJECTIVE: To investigate the family food system in first-generation Chinese American families.
DESIGN: Qualitative interviews using reciprocal determinism constructs to understand influences on food choices.
SETTING: Weekend Chinese schools in Pennsylvania.
PARTICIPANTS: Twenty couples with at least 1 child aged 5 or older enrolled in a Chinese school in 1 of 3 sites in Pennsylvania.
PHENOMENON OF INTEREST: Factors influencing adoption of Western food.
ANALYSIS: Thematic analysis with constant comparison of interview transcripts and descriptive statistics of demographic data. Families were divided into "modified" and "traditional" patterns based on degree of parental retention of the Chinese dinner pattern.
RESULTS: Many Chinese American families consumed convenient American food at breakfast, whereas they ate mainly Chinese food for lunch and dinner. Most parents reported their children were picky eaters and learned to prefer Western food to traditional Chinese food in institutional settings. Conflicts arose with children's requests for Western food disliked by their parents. Parents were especially frustrated about their children's refusal to eat vegetables. Most struggled to control children's food choices with inconsistent rules and inequitable rule enforcement at dinner. The father's view of the importance of the Chinese dinner pattern had the most impact on its retention in the face of children's demands.
CONCLUSIONS AND IMPLICATIONS: Chinese American parents established rules backed by parental power to maintain a Chinese meal pattern. They appear to need guidance to identify healthful Western food items that satisfy children's preferences while preserving their vegetable intake.