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'A Food Culture in Transition'. Perceptions of Healthy Eating and Reasoning in Food Choices - A Grounded Theory Study of Young Mothers in South Tarawa, Kiribati

Fallgren, Anna LU (2017) MPHN40 20171
Social Medicine and Global Health
Abstract
The recent shift towards energy-dense and nutrient-poor diets has led to an increase of diseases such as obesity, diabetes and cardio-vascular disease. Due to poverty, geographical remoteness and lack of cultivable land, Kiribati experiences a double burden of malnutrition with high levels of NCDs among adults, and undernourishment among children. Since mothers are generally responsible for choosing food, it is of public health relevance to carry out research on their perceptions of healthy eating and food choices. The study at hand explores these issues in urban Tarawa. The aim was to explore perceptions and attitudes towards healthy eating and food choices among young mothers in South Tarawa, Kiribati. Using a Glaserian approach to... (More)
The recent shift towards energy-dense and nutrient-poor diets has led to an increase of diseases such as obesity, diabetes and cardio-vascular disease. Due to poverty, geographical remoteness and lack of cultivable land, Kiribati experiences a double burden of malnutrition with high levels of NCDs among adults, and undernourishment among children. Since mothers are generally responsible for choosing food, it is of public health relevance to carry out research on their perceptions of healthy eating and food choices. The study at hand explores these issues in urban Tarawa. The aim was to explore perceptions and attitudes towards healthy eating and food choices among young mothers in South Tarawa, Kiribati. Using a Glaserian approach to Grounded Theory, the study used focus group discussions and in-depth interviews as the main source of data. The data was coded in three stages; open coding, focused coding and theoretical coding. This led to the construction of a conceptual model. ‘A food culture in transition’ was chosen as the core category based on the findings. The mothers felt they were dependent on imports and had trouble accessing food because of the increasing lack of cultivable land. They were used to eating without variety, but dreamed of trying new interesting food. While balancing old knowledge from family and peer-influence with new requirements from nutrition interventions, the mothers had various understandings of healthy eating. They also faced expectations of being a good mother, while wanting to do activities for themselves. Engaging in activities often meant mitigating healthy eating and peaceful relationships. The findings indicate that sustainable change will not be achieved if variety of food is not provided. Mothers need to be empowered with nutritional literacy and supported in their food choices so that they can take ownership of changing their health behaviour. Interventions need to have coherent follow-up systems of activities and involve mothers in the planning and implementation. (Less)
Popular Abstract
The world has recently gone through a shift towards unhealthy diets consisting of high levels of sugar, fat and salt. This has led to high rates of diabetes, overweight and high blood pressure. In Kiribati, one of poorest country in the Pacific and geographically remotely located with little cultivation opportunities, few people eat enough healthy food. As a result, children become undernourished and underweight, whereas adults develop the already mentioned diseases.

Interestingly enough, plenty of interventions have tried to improve the situation but the problems with food-related diseases remain. This might be because hardly any research has been made on what people actually think about food, and what they find important when choosing... (More)
The world has recently gone through a shift towards unhealthy diets consisting of high levels of sugar, fat and salt. This has led to high rates of diabetes, overweight and high blood pressure. In Kiribati, one of poorest country in the Pacific and geographically remotely located with little cultivation opportunities, few people eat enough healthy food. As a result, children become undernourished and underweight, whereas adults develop the already mentioned diseases.

Interestingly enough, plenty of interventions have tried to improve the situation but the problems with food-related diseases remain. This might be because hardly any research has been made on what people actually think about food, and what they find important when choosing food. This study suggests that it is necessary to listen to their views in order to know how to make successful interventions. Since mothers usually are responsible for making food for their families, this study looks at their views of healthy eating and food choices in South Tarawa, the capital of Kiribati.

Using group discussions and interviews to learn about mothers’ views, this study shows that mothers experience a shift in a food culture that influences their food choices. The lack of money and space, combined with sometimes being unsure of what they should eat to be healthy, put pressure from one side. On the other side, the mothers feel influenced by what their own relatives think about food, and pressure of being good mothers. In the same time, they like to try new exciting food.

It therefore seems that mothers feel they are stuck in a food culture in transition. The results add on to existing theories and thoughts about food choices from the academia, but find that claims about that mothers actually have a food choice in fact could, and should, be questioned. (Less)
Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:
author
Fallgren, Anna LU
supervisor
organization
course
MPHN40 20171
year
type
H2 - Master's Degree (Two Years)
subject
keywords
Public health, Food choices, Healthy eating, Kiribati, Pacific, Qualitative study, Mothers, Non-communicable diseases, Poverty, Climate change, Nutrition, Culture, Food policy, Non-governmental organisations, Participation
language
English
id
8923567
date added to LUP
2017-08-24 10:31:43
date last changed
2017-09-01 07:35:48
@misc{8923567,
  abstract     = {The recent shift towards energy-dense and nutrient-poor diets has led to an increase of diseases such as obesity, diabetes and cardio-vascular disease. Due to poverty, geographical remoteness and lack of cultivable land, Kiribati experiences a double burden of malnutrition with high levels of NCDs among adults, and undernourishment among children. Since mothers are generally responsible for choosing food, it is of public health relevance to carry out research on their perceptions of healthy eating and food choices. The study at hand explores these issues in urban Tarawa. The aim was to explore perceptions and attitudes towards healthy eating and food choices among young mothers in South Tarawa, Kiribati. Using a Glaserian approach to Grounded Theory, the study used focus group discussions and in-depth interviews as the main source of data. The data was coded in three stages; open coding, focused coding and theoretical coding. This led to the construction of a conceptual model. ‘A food culture in transition’ was chosen as the core category based on the findings. The mothers felt they were dependent on imports and had trouble accessing food because of the increasing lack of cultivable land. They were used to eating without variety, but dreamed of trying new interesting food. While balancing old knowledge from family and peer-influence with new requirements from nutrition interventions, the mothers had various understandings of healthy eating. They also faced expectations of being a good mother, while wanting to do activities for themselves. Engaging in activities often meant mitigating healthy eating and peaceful relationships. The findings indicate that sustainable change will not be achieved if variety of food is not provided. Mothers need to be empowered with nutritional literacy and supported in their food choices so that they can take ownership of changing their health behaviour. Interventions need to have coherent follow-up systems of activities and involve mothers in the planning and implementation.},
  author       = {Fallgren, Anna},
  keyword      = {Public health,Food choices,Healthy eating,Kiribati,Pacific,Qualitative study,Mothers,Non-communicable diseases,Poverty,Climate change,Nutrition,Culture,Food policy,Non-governmental organisations,Participation},
  language     = {eng},
  note         = {Student Paper},
  title        = {'A Food Culture in Transition'. Perceptions of Healthy Eating and Reasoning in Food Choices - A Grounded Theory Study of Young Mothers in South Tarawa, Kiribati},
  year         = {2017},
}