Changes in food habits among Pakistani immigrant women in Oslo, Norway

Ethn Health. 2005 Nov;10(4):311-39. doi: 10.1080/13557850500145238.


Objective: South Asians are generally known to have high prevalence of diabetes type 2 and coronary heart diseases. The Pakistani immigrant group in Norway constitute a high-risk subgroup of the population that needs a selective prevention approach. The main objective of this study was to provide information on dietary change and factors leading to these changes in Pakistani women after migration from Punjab, Pakistan to Oslo, Norway. Such information is important in designing appropriate strategies for dietary counselling.

Design: Twenty-five Pakistani immigrant women, recruited through the Oslo Health Study 2000-2001, participated in focus group interviews. Each group met four times, aided by a moderator and professional interpreters. A model developed by Koctürk was tested for its usefulness in analysing the dietary changes. PRECEDE was used to organise and structure the factors that were found to cause the changes.

Results: According to the women, life in Norway has led to several changes in meal pattern, meal composition and intake of different foods. In accordance with the Koctürk model, the cultural importance of breakfast and lunch has diminished, and dinner has become the most important meal. Meals on weekends tend to be more traditional than on working days. The study gives limited support to the hypothesis that changes occur predominantly among the accessory foods and least among staples. The focus group interviews revealed a rich variety of factors influencing dietary change: health aspects, children's preferences, work schedules, social relations, stress, traditional beliefs, climate, season and access of foods.

Conclusion: To develop effective intervention strategies, it is vital to understand both how changes do occur and how different factors influence dietary habits. The Koctürk model was useful to structure the various foods and changes that may occur. Strategies for dietary counselling should not only include dietary advice but also focus on the multitude of factors causing dietary changes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Emigration and Immigration*
  • Feeding Behavior / ethnology*
  • Focus Groups
  • Food Preferences / ethnology
  • Health Education
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Norway
  • Pakistan / ethnology
  • Socioeconomic Factors