Open Access Research

Determinants of changes in dietary patterns among Chinese immigrants: a cross-sectional analysis

Doenja L Rosenmöller1, Danijela Gasevic2, Jaap Seidell1 and Scott A Lear2

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Health Sciences, Free University, Boelelaan 1105, 1081 HV Amsterdam, The Netherlands

2 Department of Health Sciences, Simon Fraser University, 515 West Hastings Street, Vancouver, BC, V6B 5K3, Canada

International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity 2011, 8:42  doi:10.1186/1479-5868-8-42

Published: 18 May 2011

Abstract

Background

Chinese individuals who have immigrated to a Western country initially tend to have a lower risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) compared to people who are already living there. Some studies have found, however, that CVD risk increases over time in immigrants and that immigration to a western country is associated with changes in dietary patterns. This could have unfavourable effects on the risk of CVD. There is limited knowledge on the food patterns, awareness and knowledge about healthy nutrition among Chinese immigrants. The objective for this study is to explore changes in food patterns, and levels of awareness and knowledge of healthy nutrition by length of residence among Chinese immigrants to Canada.

Methods

120 Chinese individuals born in China but currently living in Canada completed an assessment on socio-demographic characteristics, changes in dietary patterns and variables of awareness and knowledge about healthy foods. With ordinal logistic regression the associations between the quartiles of length of residence and dietary patterns, variables of awareness and knowledge about healthy foods were explored, adjusting for age, sex, education and body mass index.

Results

More than 50% of the participants reported increasing consumption of fruits and vegetables, decreasing the use of deep-frying after immigration. Increased awareness and knowledge about healthy foods was reported by more than 50% of the participants. Ordinal regression indicated that Chinese immigrants who lived in Canada the longest, compared to Chinese immigrants who lived in Canada the shortest, consumed significant greater portion sizes (OR: 9.9; 95% CI: 3.11 - 31.15), dined out more frequently (OR: 15.8; 95% CI: 5.0 - 49.85), and consumed convenience foods more often (OR: 3.5; 95% CI: 1.23 - 10.01).

Conclusions

Chinese immigrants reported some favourable changes in their dietary intake and greater awareness and more knowledge about healthy foods after immigration. However, an increase in portion size, an increased frequency of dining out and an increased consumption of convenience foods could indicate some unfavourable changes. These results suggest that health promotion strategies should build on the observed benefits of improved nutritional knowledge and target areas of portion size and convenience eating.