Poster Topical Area: Community and Public Health Nutrition

Location: Auditorium

Poster Board Number: 61

P06-040 - Exploring ethnic restaurants as site for nutrition interventions: A qualitative study with Hispanic Caribbean restaurants in New York City

Monday, Jun 11
8:00 AM – 3:00 PM

Objectives: (1) Examine Hispanic Caribbean (HC) restaurant cooks/chefs' and owners' attitudes concerning the healthfulness of the HC diet, diet-related health disparities in the HC community, and their role in tackling these issues; and (2) Document factors potentially influencing their participation in future food environment improvement interventions.

Methods: Qualitative design, using semi-structured key informant (KI) interviews with chefs/cooks and restaurateurs serving HC cuisine in New York City (n=19).

Results: The interviews revealed KIs had high levels of awareness of diet-related issues in the HC community, and willingness to make certain healthful changes, including improving cooking practices (using less fat and salt) and the foods offered (increasing non-starchy vegetables and salad offerings, and decreasing fried foods). Responses were mixed on whether restaurants have a role in improving eating habits in the HC community. Many KIs emphasized the importance of client's personal responsibility toward healthy eating. While most expressed interest in partaking in interventions to improve the community food environment, they also cited potential barriers for participation (time, environmental constraints, and concerns over clientele acceptance of changes). Results include insights on the importance of food businesses (like restaurants) as a source for income in immigrant communities and on barriers for recruiting this population in research.

Conclusions: The results from this study contribute to informing needed environment-based nutrition interventions to address diet-related health disparities in HC communities. This study addresses a paucity in research involving ethnic, community restaurants in nutrition and public health efforts. Foods away from home are an increasingly important source of food in the US, but current policies and interventions target mostly large, chain-based restaurants. Ethnic, community-based restaurants need to be engaged in these efforts.

Funding Source:

Research support provided by the City University of New York PSC-CUNY Award # 69195-00 47 and the CUNY Diversity Projects Funds Award.

Melissa Fuster

Assistant Professor
CUNY Brooklyn College
Brooklyn, New York