Objective: (i) To describe sub-Saharan African (SSA) post-migration food habits and eating patterns; and (ii) to examine how the food habits of SSA households in Victoria reflect post-migration acculturation. Design: A cross-sectional survey using a snowball sampling technique. Data on food habits and eating patterns were obtained using semi-structured, face-to-face interviews from November 2001 to April 2002. Subjects: A total of 139 households of demographically diverse recent migrants from across sub-Saharan Africa. Setting: Melbourne metropolitan and Melbourne fringes. Analysis: Data were summarised using descriptive statistics. Results: SSA migrants and refugees indicated dietary acculturation characterised by three processes: substitution, supplementation and modification of recipes. They experienced difficulty locating their traditional foods, in particular, African vegetables (34.2%), unprocessed maize meal (29.1%), camel milk (23.1%) and maize grain (13.7%). The new foods adopted since arrival were pizza, breakfast cereals and fast foods, but also included new fruits and vegetables. Takeaway food such as Pizza Hut or McDonalds featured prominently in the SSA post-migration diet. Reasons for eating out were favourite food (48.3%), routine family outing (38.3%), special occasion (33.3%) and no time to cook (25%). A significant change in meal pattern was the inclusion of breakfast, although 21% reported skipping breakfast. Conclusion: Many of the observed dietary changes were not consistent with good health and may predispose this population to rapid weight gain and chronic disease. Rapid modernisation and the Anglo-Australian culture interact in a complex way with traditional eating and socialisation practices of SSA migrants. Understanding these forces can allow effective health promotion and community development strategies to be developed for the future health of SSA migrants and their communities.
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