Dietary differences among women of Polish descent by country of birth and duration of residency in the United States

Ethn Dis. Spring 2004;14(2):219-26.


Objectives: Changes in breast and gastric cancers and coronary artery disease among people of Polish descent after migration to the United States suggest there may be potentially modifiable factors affecting incidence of these diseases. We examined relationships of dietary factors associated with these diseases with stage of migration among Polish women in Chicago.

Design: Women of Polish descent (N = 396) were selected from Polish women's social organizations. Women completed a modified Health Habits and History Questionnaire.

Setting: The questionnaire was completed either at the participant's home or at a Polish social organization.

Participants: Participants ranged in age from 17-81 years, and included women born in Poland or the United States, who had at least one parent of Polish.

Interventions: Participants were stratified by country of birth and migration period (1935-1979, 1980-1989, 1990-1997).

Main outcome measures: The average daily intake of food groups and nutrients was assessed using multiple linear regression.

Results: We found statistically significant differences by birth country for 19 of 34 nutrients, 4 of 7 food groups, and for 21 nutrients, and 5 food groups among the different migration tertiles.

Conclusions: Women from Poland and more recent migrants had generally more nutritious intakes, compared to US-born women, or earlier migrants.

Applications/conclusions: There are significant dietary differences among women of Polish descent that vary by duration of US residency and birth country. Women with dietary intakes which place them at higher risk for cancers and cardiovascular disease could be targeted for interventions to lower their disease risk.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Acculturation
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Breast Neoplasms / ethnology
  • Breast Neoplasms / prevention & control
  • Chicago
  • Coronary Artery Disease / ethnology
  • Coronary Artery Disease / prevention & control
  • Diet*
  • Emigration and Immigration*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Nutrition Assessment
  • Nutritive Value*
  • Poland / ethnology
  • Stomach Neoplasms / ethnology
  • Stomach Neoplasms / prevention & control
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Time Factors
  • Women's Health / ethnology*