Culture and Diet Among Chinese American Children Aged 9-13 Years: A Qualitative Study

J Nutr Educ Behav. 2017 Apr;49(4):275-284.e1. doi: 10.1016/j.jneb.2016.11.002. Epub 2016 Dec 24.


Objective: To examine Chinese American children's behaviors, food preferences, and cultural influences on their diet.

Design: Qualitative individual interviews using constructs from the proposed model of dietary acculturation.

Setting: Community centers and Chinese schools in Houston, TX.

Participants: Twenty-five Chinese American children aged 9-13 years.

Phenomenon of interest: Diet, favorite restaurants, and parents' cooking and grocery shopping habits.

Analysis: Content analysis and thematic data analysis to identify code categories and themes. Coders also identified patterns based on demographic and acculturation factors.

Results: Overall, participants described their diets and associated behaviors as Asian and non-Asian. Key themes included preference for Asian and non-Asian foods; consumption of non-Asian foods for breakfast and lunch, but Asian foods for dinner; infrequent dining at restaurants; grocery shopping at Asian and non-Asian stores; and familial influences on diet. Acculturated children and children of higher socioeconomic status appeared to prefer and consume a more Westernized/non-Asian diet.

Conclusions and implications: Results illustrate that Chinese American children in this study practiced both Asian and non-Asian dietary behaviors. Findings corroborated existing acculturation research with parents and caregivers; supported constructs in the model of dietary acculturation; and provide guidance for research and programs related to dietary behaviors, determinants, and culture among this population.

Keywords: Chinese; acculturation; children; culture; diet; food preferences; interviews.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Acculturation*
  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Nutritional Physiological Phenomena* / ethnology
  • Asian Americans
  • Child
  • Child Nutritional Physiological Phenomena* / ethnology
  • China / ethnology
  • Cooking
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Diet / adverse effects*
  • Diet / ethnology
  • Female
  • Food Preferences* / ethnology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Meals / ethnology
  • Models, Psychological*
  • Parents
  • Restaurants
  • Self Report
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Taiwan / ethnology
  • Texas
  • Urban Health* / ethnology