Study Finds Race and Location Play a Role in What We Eat

Black Americans eat more processed meat, fried foods and sweetened drinks.

Posted: 03/15/2012 06:01 PM EDT

Does race and culture play a role in what we eat? A study conducted at the University of Alabama and Washington University says "yes."
Researchers looked at survey answers given to Black and white Americans over the age of 45 who live in the Southeast about their food habits and what they find interesting. They observed African-Americans are more likely to have "Southern diets" than whites. A Southern diet consists of processed meats (cold cults, hot dogs, etc.), fried foods and sweetened drinks (Coke, Pepsi, etc.).

According to Health Day, researchers also found four other eating patterns that most Americans fall into:

— The "traditional" pattern was characterized by a mixed diet of mostly takeout and prepared foods.

— A "healthy" diet was mostly made up of fruits, veggies and grains.

— "Sweets" consisted largely of sweet snacks and desserts.

— An "alcohol" pattern, which included salads, proteins (and alcohol), was associated with younger ages and higher socioeconomic status.

It’s important to note that white Americans were more likely to have a traditional diet or sweet diet. CBS News reported other findings associated with diet patterns:

— Older adults, women and those with a college education were more likely than other groups to follow a healthy diet.

— Whites with annual incomes over $35,000 and those with a college education were more likely to follow the alcohol diet pattern.

— Middle-age adults, men and whites were more likely to have a sweet tooth and follow the sweet diet.

The researchers didn't include people of other races and ethnicities because they wanted to focus on the groups with the largest stroke risks gaps: African-Americans are three times more likely to have strokes compared to white Americans. And given that strokes, high blood pressure and diet are so closely linked to one another, they felt that understanding how we eat could reduce that gap.

In a press release, researcher Suzanne Judd, Ph.D., an assistant professor of biostatistics at the University of Alabama, Birmingham, said, "We believe focusing research on dietary patterns better represents how people eat, compared to single foods or nutrients."

She added, "We hope that understanding these patterns will be informative in understanding the role of diet in health and disease disparities."

It's also important to note that the "Southern diet" is known to be higher in sodium, calories and fat, which we all know leads to a range of health issues.

Which food pattern do you mostly eat?

BET Health News - We go beyond the music and entertainment world to bring you important medical information and health-related tips of special relevance to Blacks in the U.S. and around the world.

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