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Dietary disparities of urban immigrant schoolchildren in New York City: Results from a mixed-methods pilot study

By Stella Yi, Neile K Edens, Ashley Lederer, Janet Pan, Stella K Chong, Jennifer A Wong, Yan Li, Jeannette Beasley, Chau Trinh, Simona C Kwon

Posted 06 May 2020
medRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2020.05.01.20087486

Background Obesity has been identified as an emerging health concern for Chinese American children; however, very little is known about diets in Asian American children. Objective To assess the feasibility of assessing diet of urban Chinese American children in an applied (school) setting and to gain insight on diet and drivers of dietary intakes from community nutrition experts. Design Data were from the Food Journal Project 2017, a school-based pilot study conducted by a multi-sector collaboration, and qualitative data from nutrition and community experts. Participants/Setting Children aged 8-12 (n=83) completed two dietary assessments using a food diary from January-June 2017. Children were then interviewed using the food diary as a guide; dietary data were entered into the ASA24 system by study staff. Chinese American children were compared to non-Chinese peers with respect to nutrient intake and the Healthy Eating Index 2010 (HEI-2010). Six semi-structured interviews and one panel discussion including two registered dietitians and community leaders with working knowledge of the Chinese American community were conducted from January-June 2018. Main Outcome Measures Nutrient intake and HEI-2010 scores. Statistical Analyses Performed Chi-squared and t-test comparisons, with statistical significance set at =0.05. Results Adjusted for caloric intake, Chinese American children consumed 20% more sodium, 21% more protein but 27% less sugar compared to non-Chinese children. With regards to the HEI-2010, Chinese American children had less favorable whole grains and sodium scores; and more favorable seafood protein and empty calories scores compared to non-Chinese children. Qualitative data underscored the current burden of diet-related health disparities among Chinese American children and suggested Chinese American receptivity to family-based nutritional and cooking education interventions. Conclusions Sodium reduction and increasing whole grain intakes may be warranted in Chinese American children but should be verified with additional studies. Interventions to improve nutrition in this understudied population are critical.

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