Top Clin Nutr. 18(4):291–300., Lv N, Cason KL., 2003 Oct 01
The objective of this research was to obtain information about the current dietary pattern of Chinese Americans in Pennsylvania and its relationship with demographic characteristics and acculturation factors. A self-administered questionnaire was used with a convenience sample of 399 Chinese Americans. This study found that Chinese Americans' current dietary pattern was associated with acculturation indicators and certain demographic characteristics such as age, gender, presence of children, and place of origin. Chinese Americans tend to have low consumption of dairy products. Nutrition educators may use the results of this study when designing appropriate nutrition education programs for Chinese Americans.
IN 2000, there were approximately 2.4 million Chinese Americans, the largest Asian population in the United States. For Chinese Americans, ischemic heart disease, lung cancer, stroke, and breast cancer were the greatest risks for premature death. According to another study conducted in San Francisco and Oakland, the 3 leading causes of cancer deaths among Chinese men were lung cancer, followed by colorectal and prostate cancer. Breast cancer was the leading cause of cancer death for Chinese American women, followed by colorectal, lung, and cervical cancer.
Studies have shown that colon cancer rates of Americans are 4 times higher than those of Chinese Americans and 19 times higher than those of Chinese living in China. Higher fat intakes and lower fiber intakes were associated with increased colorectal cancer rates. In addition, second generation Chinese Americans in the United States were more than twice as likely to be obese as compared to first generation Chinese Americans.
Research has shown that the differences in cancer rates among people from different countries are partly due to differences in dietary patterns, and food habits are influenced by culture. When Chinese immigrate to the United States, acculturation occurs. The acculturation process is usually accompanied by environmental and lifestyle changes that can influence chronic disease risk, including the adoption of dietary patterns that are high in fat and low in fruit and vegetables.
A Centers for Disease Control report Chronic Disease in Minority Populations noted that limited data on chronic disease, risk factors, and appropriate interventions were available for the Asian population in North America, and even less data were available for each Asian subgroup. Researchers have suggested that Asians have been neglected in the areas of health status assessment, program development, and resource allocation.
The findings of this study may be used in the design and development of appropriate nutrition education programs for Chinese Americans.