Food acquisition patterns in newly-arrived African refugees
Background - Resettlement by refugees in a new country requires adaptation to different cultural and food environments. Lack of availability and accessibility to traditional foods, differences in taste of food and disconnection with traditional culture intensifies and accelerates a form of nutrition transition which renders humanitarian immigrants particularly susceptible to chronic disease risk. Objective - To document the food neighbourhoods, food acquisition patterns, and dietary habits of newly arrived refugees to identify opportunities for food-based nutrition education intervention. Design - Ten humanitarian migrants (belonging to separate households) who had arrived from sub-Saharan Africa in the preceding 12 months were recruited to this study through snowball sampling. Subjects maintained a 7-day travel diary recording details of all occasions of travel outside their homes. The purchase, consumption and acquisition of food was recorded within these diaries. A series of 24hr diet recalls also were collected independent of the travel diary to determine usual food intake. Outcomes - Despite low socio-economic status, this study population seemed not to live in food deserts, having access to major grocery retailers and fruit and vegetable retailers within 2km of their homes. Participants usually frequented the nearest major grocery retailer to their domcilei. However, the independent grocer used was not necessarily the closest, showing possible ulterior motives for the choice of these types of shops. Those living within 1km from a major grocery retailer reported higher consumption of vegetables, compared to those living further away. No significant difference (p<0.05) was found between dietary intake and duration of stay. There was a dichotomy between ethnic African food prepared at home (eaten either at home or elsewhere) and at friends' homes, and "Australian" food eaten at training programs and other public events attended by subjects. Conclusion - Training programs and other formal meeting occasions were the major access points to local Australian food habits, and may represent an important potential setting to influence the trajectory of dietary acculturation.
Proceedings of the Nutrition Society of Australia Annual General Meeting