Dietary acculturation and increasing rates of obesity in Ethiopian women living in Israel

Hadas Regev-Tobias, Ram Reifen, Ronit Endevelt, Ofra Havkin, Erica Cohen, Gila Stern, Aliza Stark*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations

Abstract

Objective: Immigration from Third World countries to the developed world is characterized by modification of lifestyle and acculturation to local customs. This study investigated changes in nutritional status and eating behaviors in female Ethiopian immigrants in Israel. Methods: Personal interviews, two 24-h dietary recalls, and anthropometric measurements were carried out in a random sample of 53 women 32 ± 6 y of age. Results: After living in Israel for an average of 14 y, body mass index was similar to the general Israeli population, with 42% of participants with a body mass index greater than 24.9 kg/m 2, including 11% categorized as obese. This is in stark contrast to the body mass index measured at arrival in Israel (∼19-20 kg/m 2). Less than optimal consumption of dietary fiber, calcium, folate, and B12 was documented. Analysis by food groups showed that intake of dairy products, fruits, and vegetables was negligible, whereas simple sugar intakes were high. The women continued to prepare traditional Ethiopian foods but also incorporated local, less healthy foods into their diets. Compared with the high energy expenditure in rural Ethiopia, participants reported minimal physical activity in Israel. Conclusions: This immigrant community is at high risk for developing nutrition-related chronic diseases. Culturally sensitive nutrition education programs are urgently needed.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)30-34
Number of pages5
JournalNutrition
Volume28
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2012

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The research was funded in part by the Maccabi Institute for Health Services Research , Israel.

Keywords

  • Dietary acculturation
  • Dietary deficiencies.
  • Ethiopian immigrants
  • Food consumption surveys
  • Obesity

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