Perspectives of Caregivers on the Effects of Migration on the Nutrition, Health and Physical Activity of their Young Children: A Qualitative Study with Immigrant and Refugee Families

J Immigr Minor Health. 2020 Apr;22(2):274-281. doi: 10.1007/s10903-019-00905-6.


To explore perspectives on nutrition, health and physical activity among immigrant parents with young children before and after migration. We conducted focus groups in five languages (Arabic, Somali, Dari, Burmese and Nepali), then conducted a phenomenological analysis of the transcripts. Fifty caregivers participated; 42% spent time in a refugee camp. Within the domain Change in Environment, four themes emerged: (1) food access; (2) family experiences with weight and growth; (3) differences in physical activity and perceptions of safety; and (4) health care experience. Within the domain of Parenting Behaviors and Experiences, two themes emerged: (1) Sociocultural differences in early feeding behaviors and (2) concern about feeding behaviors. To support health outcomes for refugee and immigrant families with young children, key focus areas for programming would include access to fresh foods, safe places for physical activity, and feeding practices following a family history of food scarcity.

Keywords: Children; Feeding; Immigrants; Nutrition; Refugees.

MeSH terms

  • Emigrants and Immigrants*
  • Exercise*
  • Focus Groups
  • Health Status*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Nutritional Status*
  • Parents*
  • Qualitative Research
  • Refugees
  • Somalia / ethnology