Cross-cultural comparison of perspectives on healthy eating among Chinese and American undergraduate students.
Sommaire de l'article
Understanding views about what constitutes a healthy diet in diverse populations may inform design of culturally tailored behavior change interventions. The objective of this study was to describe perspectives on healthy eating among Chinese and American young adults and identify similarities and differences between these groups.
Chinese (n = 55) and American (n = 57) undergraduate students in Changsha, Hunan, China and Honolulu, Hawai'i, U.S.A. composed one- to two-paragraph responses to the following prompt: "What does the phrase 'a healthy diet' mean to you?" Researchers used content analysis to identify predominant themes using Dedoose (version 5.2.0, SocioCultural Research Consultants, LLC, Los Angeles, CA, 2015). Three researchers independently coded essays and grouped codes with similar content. The team then identified themes and sorted them in discussion. Two researchers then deductively coded the entire data set using eight codes developed from the initial coding and calculated total code counts for each group of participants.
Chinese students mentioned physical outcomes, such as maintaining immunity and digestive health. Timing of eating, with regular meals and greater intake during day than night, was emphasized. American students described balancing among food groups and balancing consumption with exercise, with physical activity considered essential. Students also stated that food components such as sugar, salt and fat should be avoided in large quantities. Similarities included principles such as moderation and fruits and vegetables as nutritious, and differences included foods to be restricted and meal timing. While both groups emphasized specific foods and guiding dietary principles, several distinctions in viewpoints emerged.
The diverse views may reflect food-related messages to which participants are exposed both through the media and educational systems in their respective countries. Future studies may further examine themes that may not typically be addressed in nutrition education programs in diverse populations of young adults. Gaining greater knowledge of the ways in which healthy eating is viewed will allow for development of interventions that are sensitive to the traditional values and predominant views of health in various groups.