Beyond standardized healthy food promotion interventions: understanding culinary practices as care among South Asian women in Hong Kong
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JC School of Public Health and Primary Care, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, China
Publication date: 2023-04-27
Popul. Med. 2023;5(Supplement):A883
Background and Objective: “Unhealthy” diet has been identified as one of the leading factors for the higher prevalence of diabetes, hypertension and obesity among South Asians in Hong Kong. Standardized health promotion interventions aim at improving knowledge of “healthy” food, assuming a lack of awareness around ideas of healthy diet and nutrition. Yet South Asian women in Hong Kong, who are the main carers of the family, do care about their children’s diet and mostly recognize “unhealthy’ food; despite this awareness, yet they often cook it for their children. This study aims then at exploring such contradiction and ultimately complicates our understanding of culinary practices as a form of care. Methods: Interviews and focus groups were conducted among South Asian women in Hong Kong to explore their perceptions and attitudes towards their children’s diet, “healthy” food and cooking as a form of care; this study is part of an ongoing larger research project on South Asian women’s health needs. Results: When asked about their main health concerns, South Asian women in Hong Kong often discuss about their children’s diet. While they appropriate and engage with the categories of “healthy” and “unhealthy” food, yet they would rather cook anything requested by their children; culinary practices are for them a form of care. The societal context of post-colonial Hong Kong and their South Asian ethnic and migrant identity further shape these women and their children’s perspectives, where “unhealthy” ingredients are more accessible, some “unhealthy” food options may be considered “modern” and some others “outdated”. Conclusions: This study suggested that standardized health promotion interventions aiming at promoting “healthy” diet fail to acknowledge cooking as an act of care embedded in the family’s social life and affected by larger social forces; alternative approaches taking into account these dimensions need to be developed.
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