This study investigated how acculturation influences diet, cultural practices related to cooking and food preparation knowledge, and stature and body mass index (BMI) of Hmong children. Focus groups (n = 12) were conducted during the spring of 2008 in St. Paul/Minneapolis, Minnesota with those born in the US and 9-13 years old (n = 22), those born in the US and 14-18 years old (n = 25), and those born in Thailand or Laos, who had lived in the US ≤ 5 years, and 14-18 years old (n = 21). Respondents also completed a survey instrument to assess acculturation level which was evaluated by questions about social connections, language use, and dietary habits. Compared to those born in the US, those born in Thailand or Laos were significantly shorter and leaner. Those born in the US also showed elevated acculturation levels in language use, social connections, and gender-oriented tasks compared to those born in Thailand or Laos. Themes from focus group discussions were mealtime patterns, determinants of food health, future health concerns, and changing cultural traditions. Acculturation, years lived in the US, and birth place may play an important role in stature and BMI, food and physical activity habits, cooking and food preparation knowledge, and perceptions of health.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
We want to thank many people in the Hmong community for their support and willingness to participate in this study, including the parents for their willingness to have children participate, and the children for sharing their thoughts and experiences with us. This study was funded by the Minnesota Agricultural Experiment Station at the University of Minnesota.
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- Body mass index (BMI)
- Dietary acculturation
- Health perceptions
- Hmong children