9th Conference European Sociological Association

RN05 Sociology of Consumption

2009-09-04 09:00:00 2009-09-04 10:30:00 Friday, 4 September 09:00 - 10:30 Contested Foods Building II, C5.01

Ethnic Differences in food consumption

In England, there is considerable variation in the consumption of food among different ethnic groups, for instance the Indian and Chinese groups are more likely to eat the recommended 5 portions of fruit or vegetables per day and have lower fat intakes than the general population (Sproston et al, 2006, Vol 1). Cultural beliefs and traditions play an important role in dietary habits so this raises the question of whether older people retain more traditional eating patterns that may not be followed by younger generations. Migration also plays a significant role in dietary change among ethnic minority populations. Lawrence et al (2007) suggest that on moving to the UK traditional foods are modified, and that a reduction in vegetable intake together with the use of fast foods causes the overall diet to be less healthy. This is supported by other studies which note the adoption of the fast food part of the British diet among South Asian and Afro-Caribbean migrants (Landman & Cruickshank, 2001; Anderson et al, 2005, Simmons & Williams, 1997; Anderson & Lean, 1995).

This paper discusses research which uses the 2004 ethnic boost of the Health Survey for England to examine ethnic differences in diet. The results of exploratory and multivariate analysis will be presented. We examine the consumption of specific foods and also how ethnic differences in diet are influenced by factors such as gender, age, generation, social class, education, household income, marital status, religion and length of time since immigration. The paper also explores the role of parental diet in explaining the diet of children - as parental eating behaviours are important in the transmission of attitudes and values towards health eating (Boutelle et al, 2007). In addition we present the results of focus groups with South Asian women which give an insight into cultural issues concerning diet and differences between young adults and the parental generation.