Date of Award

Summer 7-2-2013

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department

Nutrition

First Advisor

Dr. Murugi Ndirangu

Second Advisor

Dr. Ike Okosun

Third Advisor

Mrs. Cartherine McCarroll MPH, RD, LD

Abstract

HEALTH RISKS, NUTRITION ASSESSMENT AND DISEASE PREVALENCE AMONG AFRICAN IMMIGRANT GROUPS IN ATLANTA GEORGIA

Background: Though past studies have suggested immigrants are generally healthier than the native population, the immigrant acquisition of chronic diseases, such as obesity, hypertension and diabetes, over time, is poorly understood among African immigrants.

Objective: The objective of this study was to evaluate the health status, health risks chronic disease prevalence, and acculturation among immigrants from Ghana, Kenya and Nigeria.

Participants/setting: 130 adult African immigrants living in Atlanta and attending any of four church health fairs. Participants completed anthropometric, health status assessments and a Home Environment Family connections Survey.

Main outcome measures: BMI, waist circumference, blood glucose, blood pressure, fruit consumption frequency, availability of sugared sweetened drinks and physical activity were assessed and compared among African immigrant groups.

Statistical analysis: Prevalence was calculated. Independent sample t-test, one-way ANOVA, and Pearson correlation coefficients were used to compare anthropometrics while demographic and categorical survey data was compared using chi-squared tests.

Results: There was a statistically significant difference in the mean BMIs of African Immigrants (Nigeria and Ghana) (p=0.013) but not in the waist circumferences (p>0.05). High blood pressure prevalence in Ghanaian, Nigerian and Kenyan immigrants was 42.6 %, 36.8 %, and 25.8 % respectively. The prevalence of diabetes in Ghanaian, Nigeria and Kenyan immigrants was 18.8 %, 11.8 %, and 4.9 % respectively. Obesity prevalence in Nigerian, Kenyan and Ghanaian immigrants was 52.6 %, 45.8 %, and 31.1 % respectively. There were no statistically significant associations between the Years of Stay status and disease prevalence (p>0.05). There were no statistically significant associations between the BMI status and the availability of sugared sweetened drinks in the household, fruit consumption frequency, or the physical activity of African immigrants.

Conclusion: African immigrants appear to have a slightly lower prevalence of diabetes, but a higher prevalence of hypertension and obesity than the United States population. Acculturation did not play a strong role in determining the health trajectories of African immigrants. Grouping immigrants by their country of origin does provide another important dimension in understanding the variation in immigrant health as each group had significant differences in the prevalence of diseases.

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