Comparing dietary patterns of college students when eating in America versus eating in China: Impact on nutrient intake, body weight and waist circumference.
Food acculturation is the process of changing and adapting food choices and eating behaviors when people move from one culture to another. Chinese women living in America have lower intakes of dairy, bread/cereal, fat, protein, sugar and energy when compared to American counterparts. These differences reflect ethnic practices combined with changes made after adjusting to American culture and American food. Changes in the diet of Americans living in China have not been reported in the literature.
Purpose: 1) Compare dietary intake patterns of Chinese international students (CI) while living at an American college campus vs. while living at home in China during summer term. 2) Compare dietary intake patterns of American students (AS) while living at an American college campus vs. while living in China during summer term. 3) Determine if dietary changes impact body weight and waist circumference.
Methods: Chinese international students were contacted by email during the fall semester and asked to participate during spring semester in America and summer in China. American students planning to study in China over the summer were contacted by email during fall semester and asked to participate during spring semester in American and summer in China. A total of 20 participants returned informed consent forms (17 Chinese international students and 3 American students). Both groups kept 7 day food records while in America and while in China. Body weight and waist circumference for all participants was obtained prior to leaving America and upon return to America. Paired t-tests were used for data analysis.
Results: Protein intakes for both groups was higher while in China (CI intake was 66±19 vs. 79±9 gm, AS intake was 63±17 vs. 75±gm). Both groups had lower energy intake (CI 1128±219 vs. 1187±367 kcal, AS 1251±262 vs 1494±382 kcal) while in China. Carbohydrate and fat intake was lower for both groups while in China. These differences were not statistically significant. Changes in body weight and waist circumference were not significant.
Conclusion: Differences in dietary pattern were found however the time period for the changes in dietary intake was not long enough to impact changes in body weight or waist circumference.
Maoxinyu [Daisy] Wu presented her research at the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics annual meeting April 24, 2014.
Research advisor Jayne Byrne, MS, RDN