Year of Publication

2015

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Document Type

Master's Thesis

College

Agriculture, Food and Environment

Department

Dietetics and Human Nutrition

First Advisor

Dr. Ingrid Adams

Abstract

Background: Hispanics are the largest minority group in the U.S. and by the year 2060 the number of Hispanics is projected to double. They are disproportionately affected by obesity and chronic diseases which translate into decreased quality of life, loss of work opportunities and perceptions of injustice for the Hispanic population. The Dietary Guidelines (DG) provide information to help Americans make healthy food and physical activity choices and if followed can be a means of reducing the health disparity gap. However, culturally relevant recommendations specific to Hispanics’ health and nutritional habits are often lacking. The purpose of this study was to examine Hispanics’ knowledge, perceptions, benefits and barriers to the recommendations in the DG for Americans, Choose MyPlate, and the Department of Health and Human Services physical activity guidelines.

Methods: A qualitative research design was used. Focus groups were conducted in Spanish and audiotapes were transcribed and then, translated into English. Thematic analysis was used to identify different key concepts subgrouping these topics according to common emergent themes.

Results: A total of 24 participants took part in the study. Participants viewed healthy eating in terms of portion sizes. They viewed the DG as helpful but felt they needed more information to follow the guidelines. Several barriers were identified in following the MyPlate: lack of availability of healthy, fresh, inexpensive grocery options in Hispanic neighborhoods. Participants described the benefits of physical activity as related to improved mental health and quality of life such as looking and feeling better.

Conclusion and Implications: Promoting nutrition education that is culturally and linguistically appropriate for Hispanics might help facilitate the adoption of the DG and MyPlate recommendations. Also, improving the design of existing low-income neighborhoods is still a challenge to improve participation in physical activity among Hispanics’.