Food group categories of low-income African American women

J Nutr Educ Behav. 2011 May-Jun;43(3):157-64. doi: 10.1016/j.jneb.2010.02.011. Epub 2011 Feb 22.


Objective: Describe lay food group categories of low-income African American women and assess the overlap of lay food groups and MyPyramid food groups.

Design: A convenience sample of African American mothers from a low-income Chicago neighborhood performed a card-sorting task in which they grouped familiar food items into food groups.

Setting: One-on-one interviews in a neighborhood community center.

Participants: Twenty-eight African American mothers.

Main outcome measure: A hierarchical taxonomy of food groups for each participant, represented as a matrix of distances among food items in the individual sort of each participant.

Analysis: Cultural consensus analysis, hierarchical cluster analysis, and coding of food group category labels and sorting justifications.

Results: Consensus analysis revealed a consistent cultural model of lay food groups among the women. Lay food groups were systematically different from MyPyramid food groups. Lay food groups were more influenced by how food items are prepared or when and how food items are eaten than are MyPyramid food group categories.

Conclusions and implications: Nutrition messages framed using lay food group categories of low-income African Americans may be more effective for that population than messages using MyPyramid food group categories.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • African Americans / psychology*
  • Chicago
  • Consensus
  • Diet
  • Feeding Behavior*
  • Female
  • Food / classification*
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Nutrition Policy
  • Pilot Projects
  • Poverty
  • Young Adult