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Title:Food practices, dietary patterns, and leisure behaviors among Mexican immigrants in the Midwestern United States
Author(s):Phan, Maggie M.
Director of Research:Stodolska, Monika
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Stodolska, Monika
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Chapman-Novakofski, Karen M; Payne, Laura L; Shinew, Kimberly J
Department / Program:Recreation, Sport and Tourism
Discipline:Recreation, Sport, and Tourism
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):food, leisure, recreation, Mexican immigrants, questionnaire
Abstract:Changes in diet that have occurred in the last several decades in many developed countries have contributed to high obesity rates and an increasing prevalence of chronic diseases among immigrant populations. My study, conducted in the Midwestern United States, examined changes in food practices and dietary patterns among Mexican immigrants and investigated how leisure was related to these food practices and dietary patterns. The overall objective of the study was to characterize this process of change in food practices and dietary patterns and the role of leisure in such changes among Mexican immigrants in the Midwestern U.S. The dissertation consists of three papers. The primary aim of Paper 1 was to address the question of how food practices and dietary patterns of Mexican immigrants in the U.S. change after their arrival in the U.S. Based on semi-structured in-depth interviews with 23 Mexican immigrants, I had found that immigrants prepared foods of their culture using both traditional and new techniques, excluded other foods of their culture unavailable in their local environment, and consumed foods that were new to them and which they became familiar within the new country. Following immigration, most interviewees stopped growing food as part of their leisure, and cooking became less fun and was no longer a leisurely activity as a result of time constraints and conflicting family and work schedules. The primary aim of Paper 2 was to understand why the food procurement, food preparation, and food consumption of the Mexican immigrants change after moving to the U.S. I found that there were a number of factors that affect food practices and dietary patterns among Mexican immigrants residing in Midwestern U.S. These included (1) elements of the new environment, (2) cultural beliefs regarding food and diet, (3) psychological factors and taste preferences, and (4) changes in lifestyles and day-to-day schedules. My findings further provided novel insights into the literature on leisure behaviors among immigrant populations by examining their leisure activities related to food preparation and consumption (e.g., cooking as leisure, eating out, social interactions during meals). The main objective of Paper 3 was to devise a questionnaire to directly evaluate the encompassing effects of the built environment as well as individual health and leisure behaviors on food practices and dietary patterns among Mexican immigrants in the Midwestern U.S. The questionnaire that I developed based on the findings from the research that I had completed for my first two papers and an additional literature review was reviewed for content validity by a panel of experts. The face validity of the questionnaire was determined in a series of cognitive interviews with Mexican immigrants who live in the Midwest. After producing a final draft of the questionnaire and administering it to Mexican immigrant participants, its internal consistency reliability and test-retest reliability were computed. The questionnaire’s low internal consistency reliability and rather unstable test-retest reliability demonstrated its need for improvement. Nevertheless, the findings from my entire study can contribute to the development of recreation programs and health promotion strategies that target Mexican immigrants. In particular, dietitians, public health practitioners, and recreational program directors can use the knowledge gained from my study to formulate culturally tailored interventions to encourage the consumption of nutritious foods and meals within a recreational setting or community event (i.e., cooking classes, farmers markets, meal preparation education).
Issue Date:2021-04-23
Rights Information:Copyright 2021 Maggie Phan
Date Available in IDEALS:2021-09-17
Date Deposited:2021-05

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