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Determinants of Diet Quality in a Pacific Islander Community

Objectives: Obesity and obesity related diseases such as hypertension and type-2 diabetes (diabetes) are a global health epidemic, and are especially severe in Pacific Islander populations. The objective of this study is to identify the beliefs, experiences and influences related to diet quality within a Marshallese Pacific Islander community in Arkansas.
Methods: A mixed method design was chosen to obtain a more comprehensive view of participant’s diet quality beliefs, experiences and influences and overcome the limitations of a single design. From November 2017 to February 2018, a purposive sample of 40 participants took part in the mixed methods study via focus groups.
Results: As we sought to understand beliefs, experiences and influences related to diet quality, four a priori qualitative themes were identified: (1) Socio-cultural determinants of diet quality; (2) Preferential determinants of diet quality; (3) Economic determinants of diet quality; and (4) Nutritional knowledge of diet quality.
Conclusion: Similar to other studies of Pacific Islander communities in Hawaii and the United States affiliated Pacific Islands, Marshallese participants discussed numerous sociocultural, preferential, economic and nutritional knowledge determinants to diet quality. Understanding the beliefs, experiences and influences related to diet quality will fill an important gap in the literature for Marshallese in Arkansas and help inform interventions, practices and policies that can reduce obesity, hypertension, and diabetes.


McElfish PA*, Hudson J, Shulz T, Hye-cheon KimYeary K, Capelle L, Riklon L, Long CR, English E, Ayers BL

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