Food Perceptions and Dietary Changes for Chronic Condition Management in Rural Peru: Insights for Health Promotion

Nutrients. 2018 Oct 23;10(11):1563. doi: 10.3390/nu10111563.


Peru is undergoing a nutrition transition and, at the country level, it faces a double burden of disease where several different conditions require dietary changes to maintain a healthy life and prevent complications. Through semistructured interviews in rural Peru with people affected by three infectious and noninfectious chronic conditions (type 2 diabetes, hypertension, and neurocysticercosis), their relatives, and focus group discussions with community members, we analyzed their perspectives on the value of food and the challenges of dietary changes due to medical diagnosis. The findings show the various ways in which people from rural northern Peru conceptualize good (buena alimentación) and bad (mala alimentación) food, and that food choices are based on life-long learning, experience, exposure, and availability. In the context of poverty, required changes are not only related to what people recognize as healthy food, such as fruits and vegetables, but also of work, family, trust, taste, as well as affordability and accessibility of foods. In this paper we discuss the complexity of introducing dietary changes in poor rural communities whose perspectives on food are poorly understood and rarely taken into consideration by health professionals when promoting behavior change.

Keywords: Peru; chronic conditions; dietary changes; health behavior; health promotion.

MeSH terms

  • Choice Behavior
  • Food Supply / economics*
  • Food Supply / standards*
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Health Promotion*
  • Humans
  • Nutritional Status
  • Perception
  • Peru
  • Rural Population*