African-American views of food choices and use of traditional foods

Donna M. Winham, Simon T. Knoblauch, Michelle M. Heer, Sharon V. Thompson, Cheryl der Ananian

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Objectives: In this study, we describe dietary intakes and examine variation among African-American adults in the Southwest, and identify barriers to engaging in healthy dietary behaviors, and use of traditional African-American foods, including pulses. Methods: Using mixed-methods parallel analysis, 97 African Americans aged 25-60 years completed surveys on lifestyle and dietary habits prior to focus group discussions in 3 geographic regions of Arizona. We identified themes in the qualitative transcripts using an inductive approach informed by Grounded Theory. Survey data were compared by sex, and age cohort via chi-square and ANOVA. Results: Qualitative knowledge of healthy choices was high for most participants, but survey dietary intakes were below recommendations for fruit, vegetables, fiber, and pulses. Greens, fried chicken and fish, barbequed meats, okra-corn-tomato mix, grits, and sweet potatoes were eaten at least twice a month by 30%-50%. Statistically significant food consumption differences were observed by sex, age, and income. Healthy eating barriers included cost, access, convenience or time to prepare, accessibility, and cultural preferences and traditions. Interest in food preparation education was a common theme. Conclusions: Arizona African Americans retain elements of traditional foods in their diet. Health education should offer practical solutions for the cited barriers, be culturally relevant, and build on existing knowledge.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)848-863
Number of pages16
JournalAmerican journal of health behavior
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2020


  • Blacks
  • Food behaviors
  • Health disparities
  • Nutrition
  • Qualitative research
  • Soul food

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Social Psychology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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