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Effect of migration on food habits of Somali women living as refugees in Australia
journal contributionposted on 2004-05-01, 00:00 authored by Catherine Burns
This study aimed to assess the dietary changes that occur for migrants moving from a low-income to a high-income country. The sample included 45 females who had migrated to Australia from Somalia within the past 5years (1996-2001). The data for the study was derived from structured interviews conducted by a bilingual interviewer and anthropometry. Usual dietary intake and frequency of consumption of 54 foods were determined both for Australia (current home) and for Somalia (previous home). In Australia, subjects maintained the structure of the diet from their country of birth. They did increase their consumption of some processed food, such as instant noodles, crisps, and pizza. However, there was little evidence that the subjects adopted ready or partially prepared meals or takeaway meals. A significant addition to the diet in Australia was the use of breakfast cereals. Significant substitutions were of ready-baked bread for traditional bread and lamb for camel meat. The mean BMI of the sample was 27.4kg/m2. Sixty percent of the sample were overweight or obese (BMI>25). Some of the dietary changes observed may be consistent with increased energy intake and altered nutrient density. Given the association between transition to a high-income diet and obesity, it is important that migrants are encouraged to retain the best of their traditional diet while adopting healthy foods from host country.