Intergenerational differences in acculturation experiences, food beliefs and perceived health risks among refugees from the Horn of Africa in Melbourne, Australia

Wilson A, Renzaho A. Public Health Nutr. 2015 Jan;18(1):176-88. 

This study investigates the differences in acculturation experiences between parent and adolescent refugees from the Horn of Africa in Melbourne, Australia and explores food beliefs and perceived health risks from an intergenerational perspective. Eritrean, Ethiopian, Somali and Sudanese refugees were studied.

Qualitative analysis identified differences between parents and adolescents in relation to lifestyle, diet and physical activity. Views regarding health consequences of their changed diets also differed. Parental feeding practices encompassed a variety of methods and were enforced in an attempt by parents to control their children's dietary behaviours and prevent their drift away from traditional eating habits.

These findings call for more research to contextualise dietary acculturation among refugee youth and the impact of migration on parenting styles and feeding practices in communities from the Horn of Africa. Preventive health programmes with Horn of Africa refugees need to acknowledge the effect of acculturation on diet and physical activity levels and a socio-cultural framework needs to be developed with respect to the importance and influence of the family environment.

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