Introduction: We conducted a qualitative study to inform the design of a proposed community-wide campaign to promote increased physical activity and fruit and vegetable consumption among low-income Hmong families.
Methods: We held eight focus groups with parents of children aged 5 to 14 years and with youths aged 11 to 14 years, interviews with key informants in several Hmong communities, and interviews with professionals who conducted physical activity and nutrition activities in these communities. Sessions were tape-recorded and transcribed. We organized data using ATLAS.ti software and then analyzed the content.
Results: Findings suggest that physically active lifestyles and dietary patterns emphasizing fresh foods including fruits and vegetables are valued in the Hmong culture and perceived as essential to good health. Barriers to a healthy lifestyle include limited access to safe spaces, time for adequate physical activity, access to land to grow fresh produce, and time for home preparation of food. Low incomes and marketing of unhealthy foods, particularly to children, are also problematic. Information on the healthy aspects of both traditional foods and American foods is needed in accessible formats and delivered through media and trusted community sources.
Conclusion: Like other Asian groups, the majority of Hmong are first-generation immigrants. An increase in nutrition-related chronic diseases can be prevented by encouraging and reinforcing the maintenance of traditional eating patterns and active lifestyles.