Alteration of Diery Habits

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Foreign students must adapt to the host culture in order to survive. However, is it necessary to become acculturated to perform well, academically or professionally? Based on dietary pattern as the main tool to determine a Taiwanese student level of adaptation, the purpose of the study is to determine 1) how well one has adapted, 2) whether one has simply adapted or become acculturated, 3) Why acculturation occurred or did not occur, and 4) if acculturation is necessary for Taiwanese students to be successful. Information about acculturation and dietary pattern of the increasing Taiwanese students population in the USA is limited. Most of Taiwanese who are original from the Mainland China are considered as Chinese too. Although there is no study about diet and acculturation in Taiwanese, related researches and studies on Chinese can be used.

A foreign student's success as a scholar may be dependent on the degree of his/her adjustment to the prevailing cultural pattern.

One adjustment to an unfamiliar environment is the daily dietary choice. Students are faced with an unfamiliar diversity of food which alters food choices and level of consumption. Food choice, like any complex human behavior, will be influenced by many interrelated factors, such as benefits relating to foods, characteristics of the individual, food, or environment. Obviously, Taiwanese students are faced with a totally different environment in the West and a great adjustment of old dietary habits to American dietary patterns is expected. The question here is do Taiwanese students simply adapt to host country culture to survive or do they actually become acculturated? Adaptation can be viewed as students able and willing to eat American food when Chinese food is not available. Acculturation can be viewed as students are willing to eat American food even though they can cook or choose Chinese food. Distingishing between adaptation and acculturation can be difficult as they can occur simultaneously rather than in stages, thus many studies in the past have used these terms quite interchangeably. It is thus a goal of this paper to distinguish the differences. This section reviews some article that are related to this topic. This section includes the following subheadings: (1), Traditional food habits, (2) Acculturation of Chinese/ Chinese students and dietary patterns, (3) Adaptation to American dietary patterns, and (4) related methodology.

Traditional Food Habits

China is usually divided into five culinary regions characterized by flavor or into two area (northern and southern) based on climate and the availability of foodstuffs (Kittler & Sucher, 1989). No matter southern or northern cuisine, the meal (consisting of "fan' or rice or grain, primary item of the meal and "tsai', vegetable and meat or seafood) must be balanced. Newman (1980) found that Chinese usually eat more fan and more tsai to maintain their health and traditionally, few dairy products are eaten since many Chinese are lactose intolerant. Rice is the staple food of southern China and wheat is common made into noodles, dumplings, steamed breads. Although Chinese eat a variety of animal protein foods, they eat less at any one meal than is customary in the West. Soybeans, another common and native food, are transformed into an array of food products, such as soy sauce, tofu, and black bean. Sugar is not used in large quantities. Hot soup or tea is the beverage that usually accompanies a meal. Most Chinese food is cooked; very little raw food, except fruit, is eaten. Thus, Chinese cuisin is balanced by the geographic availability of foods in a particular region, where abundant foods are staples and rare foods reserved for special occasions.

The other duality or balance to eating and good health is the philosophy of "Yin', passively, or cold and "Yang', actively or hot. In the Chinese system, health is perceived as a condition of bodily equilibrium between these two extremes. The balance of the Yin and Yang components of the body through meals is practiced normally in Chinese families ( Wheeler & Poh, 1983).

Acculturation of Chinese/ Chinese Students and Dietary Pattern

Acculturation, as defined by Hoebel (1996), is the change a society undergoes when influenced by a dominant culture with which it has come in contact. Acculturation and assimilation into an industrialized host society that promotes consumption of mass-produced foods alters specific dietary components, life styles, and related nutritional practices (Kurtz, 1990: 2). As claimed by Ho (1966), adaptation to American food by oriental students would require greater adjustments than occidental students because of vast differences in cultural background between the East and the West.

Chinese populations have exhibited lower mental and physical health than occidental counterparts as measured by the acculturative stress (Cawte) scale. In the study of Queen's University, 42 Chinese, 43 French-Canadian, and 42 English-Canadian students were surveyed. Chataway and Berry (1989) examined the problems experienced by these groups, their subsequent coping responses, and the outcome in terms of mental health, physical health, academic success, and coping satisfaction. These students completed questionnaires containing various aspects of their lives and personifies, coping styles and physical health. The Chinese students experienced higher Trait Anxiety and more acculturation and communication difficulties than French- and English- Canadian students. The Chinese students also experiences poorer health and coping satisfaction. In addition, Mok (1985) found the major problems reported by Chinese students in Canada to be, in order of importance, homesickness, loneliness, and language problems. Chinese students at an English university appear to suffer from high anxiety.

Chataway and Berry (1989) explained Chinese students came from a very stressful environment (China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan) which might be transferred to university life, because they maintained the same academic and life styles and interacted mainly with other Chinese students. One would expect Taiwanese students to experience and face the same problems of acculturation as Chinese students in particular prejudice, communication, adaptation. and hence, to experience adaptation stress. However, despite the problems experienced, Chataway noted that academic performance does not appear to suffer, because this aspect of their lives at university has top priority.

Acculturation affects the dietary patterns of Chinese and thus measuring dietary changes can serve as a marker adaptation or acculturation. Yang and Fox (1979) study of qualitative and quantitative changes in food habits of 102 first-generation Chinese living in Lincoln, Nebraska showed that they incorporated American foods by preparing them in a Chinese manner. A structured questionnaire was used to get personal background data, present food habits, prior practices and changes in food consumption patterns. The "Composite Adaptation Score' and 24-hour recalls were used to determine the applicants* "acculturation' level. The result shows that the decrease in use of Chinese foods meant a continuous process of food habit changing in the group of Chinese. It would appear that the longer they stay in the US, the more American food habits they will adapt. However, one must remeber that these immigrants simply adapted available foods so that Chinese cultural dishes could be prepared. They did not eat "hamburgers' and "fries' but used spinach and broccoli to produce Chinese dishes.

Results from Newman & Luman (1984). Study reveal that the traditional food habits continue to affect modern Chinese dietary practices. The dietary habits, health beliefs, and food practices of two Chinese populations, 180 in China, the other 157 in the US were studied. A questionnaire was translated into Chinese and included 27 items. Some of questions were close-ended, other were both closed- and open-ended. This allowed for differences of location of testing and as wide a range of responses as possible. Ninety percent drank soup at meals, 27% tea, and 20% water. Other beverages were 10% or less. Special foods were bought for the elderly by 58% and about half were foods high in protein since traditional Chinese people believed high in protein or cholesterol food meant healthy food. The elderly Chinese also continued "hot' or "cold' food balancing as a standard of preparing food. Wheeler and Poh (1983) also have the same finding. Fifty families living in Greater London originated from Hong Kong were surveyed. The general subject areas were food, cooking, the feeding of the family and of children in particular, and health care. They found the Chinese woman, planning her family's meals, is not only averting "hot' and "cold' illness now but also preventing the development later of some illnesses which she regards as especially characteristic of the elderly. A "hot' food ' make one's body base hotter' such as cauliflower, a "neutral' one does not affect it such as bamboo-shoot, a "cold' item "cools the body base' such as spinach and pineapple.

Jerome, the founder of Nutritional Anthropology in 1966, indicates that diet is a sensitive index of acculturation. The relationship between dietary change and other types of acculturation is complex. Social, cultural, economic, and nutritional factors are interwoven in an intricate net. Unraveling it requires a combination of nutritional and ethnological methods of research and analysis.

Adaptation to American Dietary Pattern

Adaptation, as defined by Weiss, using anthropological and nutritional evolutionary view (1980), is the sum total of biological and behavior mechanisms by which a population secures its ability to persist. Adaptation is first and foremost a matter of locating food. Jerome (1980) found when people move from a rural to the an urban environment, their diets often change. They must prepare meals quickly to meet the demands of work and schools schedules. They must purchase rather than produce their food. Diet quality and nutritional status are easily affected by such changes. Similarly, Rao (1986) explains that it is generally expected that when people migrate from one place to another, they tend to adapt the food habits prevalent in the place of distinction, thus changing their own dietary styles. When a shift in the residence occurs outside the cultural regions, then one questions whether the migrants retain the same food habits or change in favor of dietary style of the locals in the new place of residence. However, the relationship between the change of place and change in the food behavior is not so straight as it appears.

Acculturation research provides a means for observing how immigrants, when confronted with altered food consumption environments, utilize adaptive strategies to cope with the new conditions. In the process of adaptation, new food behaviors and concepts about food emerge (Bennett, 1976).

Jerome (1980) examined the dietary acculturation of 130 southern-born women in a Black Inner City district of Milwaukee. All the respondents were women who were divided into four subculture groups had migrated from a relatively culture area and resided in a census tract. The study determine the changes in the food habits of the respondent group in source of the food supply; food preservation practicing; using of commercially prepared foods; changing in preparation methods; traditional beliefs concerning food; and meal pattern. The meal pattern of Group I is close to traditional southern pattern due to their recent migration and the low consequent level of adjustment to the new environment. The women in Group II and III who have higher educate or working experiences tend to add new food items to their meals.

Grivett and Paquette (1978), examining 30 first , second, and third Chinese generations, found continued nonconsumption of certain foods in American despite availability. Seventy-seven traditional Chinese and nontraditional American foods were all readily available at supermarkets or Asian food stores. Respondents were asked for frequency of consumption for each food. Each food was rated twice, reflecting food consumption frequencies while living in China and after arrival in the US. Although pork, chicken, beef, and prawns were the animal products consumed most frequently in China, all but prawns were still eaten often by more than 80%. Except for ice cream, diary products showed low consumption. Rice remains the cereal of choice though its consumption declines after immigration. Vegetable use remains high with different vegetable used more in America. Fruit use increases as apples and peaches and snack use changes. Another similar study (Yang & Fox) also showed that dinners remains the most traditionally Chinese meal, whereas breakfast, lunch, and snacks tend to become more Americanized. Twenty-nine food items were capable of differentiating between persons who were more adaptable and those who were less adaptable food habit changes. Items which were capable included common foods in the Chinese* pattern, such as pork, poultry, rice, and soy sauce, which occurred less frequently in present diet, and typical American items, such as potatoes, beer, and ice cream used infrequently in the past and more often in the present diet.

Ho, Nolan, & Dodds(1966) examined and measured the dietary changes from the home, Asian countries to the host, American country and to evaluate factors involved in dietary changes. The adaptation scale and a 24-hour recall were used to test 120 different racial students. The higher the score, the greater the adaptation to the American food patterns. Factors that were related to the adaptation of the oriental students were age, length of residences, participation in extracurricular activities, difficulty with spoken English, eating at home or out and previous cooking experience. In addition, local foods were used replaced in part by bread, rolls, and prepared cereals. Other changes involved an increased use of salads, fresh fruit juices, and decrease in the variety of vegetables used. Milk, milk products, eggs, poultry, and meats appeared more frequently in the diet eaten in America. Coffee became a staple although little used at home. The American food most likely accepted were most of the kinds of meat; milk and milk products, especially ice cream; cakes and pie; and fresh fruits and juices. The foods most disliked were those unacceptable or unavailable in the home country, those with a strong flavor, or those based on familiar ingredients but different in quality or preparation.

Moreover, when Chinese immigrants live in the US longer, their food patterns will become more diversity. Newman (1980) studied 102 immigrants in Queens and Chinatown in New York City, using questionnaires and interviews. Significant changes of food habits occur immediately after immigration, though less for those in Chinatown. After more than five years in the United States, there is a reversal to some traditional food habits no matter where the people live. Respondents came from China, Hongkong, or Taiwan. The foods questionnaire is a composite of the Chinese food habit studies, regional cookbooks using food common to Chinese cuisine and other lists of characteristic Chinese foods. Respondents* background information and frequency of using certain foods are asked. The final finding of the most significant changes are for meats and dairy items.

Related Methods

The study will use the Suinn-Lew Asian Self-Identity Acculturation Scale ( Suinn, et al., 1987; Arkinson & Gim, 1989) and personal background data as instruments to determine the relationship among acculturation level and Taiwanese students in New York City. The scale includes the use of language, characters, thought and social aspects to determine the acculturation level and has been shown its validation and reliability ( Suinn, Ahuna, & Khoo, 1992). The score of 1.00 means low acculturation; 5.00 means high acculturation and 3 means bicultural (Suinn, Rickard-figueroa, Lew & Vigil, 1987). The questionnaires will be justified in order to get right answers from applicants.

Personal background of variables includes: gender, age, length of residence in the United states, length of studying in college, studying at which college, and how well in

To differentiate between Taiwanese students who are more adaptable and those who are less adaptable in food habit changes, eating pattern frequency questionnaire (Yang et al., 1979; Newman, 1980) and food and conditions of changes questionnaire ( Ho, Nolan, & Dodds 1966) will be used. because FFQs can be filled out rapidly, it is a good way to collect public data in a short time. However, nutritionist* estimates by FFQ may be less valid depending on the questionnaire format and mode of administration (Nestle & Woteki, 1995). Therefore, the food frequency questionnaire will be modified to meet cultural diversity. The assumption for food and condition of changes will be that the higher the score, the greater the adaptation to the American food pattern.

Moreover, to determine whether Taiwanese students simply adapt to American food to survive or do they actually become acculturated, questions on food choices to both American and Chinese food will given to applicants. Several factors including taste, health, convenience, variety, and cost will be considered relative to the adaptation to American food ( Darian & Cohen, 1995).


The future study will focus on:

1) The tool to measure adaptation will be similar to Yang's food frequency questionnaire to compare change in food consumption patterns form past and present. It basically determines the change in usage of Chinese and American foods from past and present.

2) The tool to measure acculturation will be similar to Ho's (1966) food adaptation score based on menu analysis of specific meals and the Suinn-Lew Asian Self-Identity Acculturation questionnaire (1987). It basically determine the reason for choosing American and Chinese food items.

3) The tool to help determine why or why did not acculturation occur, will be similar to Rusignuolo's ' Benefits sought by consumer survey' and Darian's (1995) consumer survey.

4) Academic success shall be measured by grade point average and subjective scholastic level.

References and Annotations

Chataway, C. J. & Berry, J. W. (1989). Acculturation experiences, appraisal, coping and adaptation: A comparison of Hong Kong Chinese, French, and English students in Canada. Canadian Journal Behavior Sciences, 21(3), 295-309.

Forty-two Chinese, 43 French, and 42 English students completing questionnaires pertaining to various aspects of their lives and personalities, their coping styles, their psychological and physical health, and their satisfaction with their coping abilities. The Chinese students experienced higher Trait Anxiety, and prejudice, more adaptation problems than other groups.

Darian, J. C. & Cohen, J. (1995). Segmenting by consumer time shortage. Journal of Consumer Marketing. 12 (1), 32-44.

The study seeks to determine whether consumers* time availability is an important segmentation variable in the convenience and fast-food market and the elements of marketing strategy need to be adapted to attract different segments.

Dietary Guidelines for people in Taiwan. Republic of China (Vol.2). Taipei, Taiwan: National Health Administrative, Executive Yuan, 1991.

Recommendations for energy (calories) are expressed as a range, while those for protein, vitamins A, D, E, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, B6, B12, iodine and so on are all expressed as a single figures.

Frary, R. B., & Hertzler, A. A. (1995). College Students* Nutrition Information Networks. Family & Consumer Science Research Journal, 24(2), 191-202.

Nutrition information networks accessible to or being accessed by college students were studied. Undergraduate students in an introductory nutrition class rated their perceived use of nutrition information networks; provided frequency-of-use responses to a survey of food choices, fat practices, and fast-food practices; and estimated nutrient intake for iron, calcium, and fat. Factor-related scores reflected each subject's perceived frequency use for each category.

Gains, N. (1994). The repertory grid approach. In MacFie, H. J. H. & Thomson, D. M. H. (Ed.), Measurement of food preferences (pp 51-76), New York: Blackie Academic & professional.

This chapter describes George Kelly's repertory grid methodology which is based on a sound psychological theory and offers the food researcher great flexibility for investigating consumer perceptions of foods.

Grivetti, L. E., & Paquette, M. B. (1978). Non-traditional ethic food choices among first generation Chinese in California. Journal of Nutrition Education, 10, 109-112.

Data from 30 Chinese interviews show continued nonconsumption of certain foods in American despite availability. Seventy-seven foods investigated. Although pork, chicken, beef, and prawns were the animal products consumed most frequently in China, all but prawns still eaten often by more than 80%. Except for ice cream, diary products show low consumption. Rice remains the cereal of choice though its consumption declines after immigration. Vegetable use remains high with different vegetable used more in America. Fruit use increases is of apples and peaches and snack use changes.

Ho, G. P., Nolan, F. L., & Dodds, M. L. (1966). Adaptation to American dietary patterns by students from oriental countries. Journal of Home Economics, 58(4), 277-280.

An effort was made to measure the dietary changes from the home to the host country and to evaluate factors involved in dietary change. Factors that were related to the adaptation of the national groups were age, length of residences, participation in extracurricular activities, difficulty with spoken English, eating at home or out and previous cooking experience.

Kittler, P. G., & Sucher, K. (1989). Asian. Food and Culture in America. 248-285. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold.

The book approaches food and culture nutritionally, anthropologically, psychologically, historically, ecologically, and geographically. Each of chapters outlines the history of the country of origin, the history of immigration to the America, current demographics and socioeconomic status, and the prevailing worldview expressed by members of the minority group. Also, traditional food habits, including ingredients and common foods, meal patterns, special-occasion foods, the role of food in the society, and therapeutic uses of food were discussed.

Kurtz, C. S. (1990). Changes in dieatry behaviors of Greeks and Greek-American living in Tarpon Spring, Florida. University of Florida.

Mcarthur, L. H., Grivetti, L. E., & Schutz, H. G. (1990). International and U.S. Students Regarding Food Supplements and Health Foods. Ecology of Foods & Nutrition, 24(4), 233-249.

Reasons for food supplement use reflected beliefs by both groups that these products prevented or cured specific medical conditions. Health foods in contrast were popular primarily for their taste and culinary attributes.

Mok, d. (1985). The sojourn experience of Chinese visa students. Unpublished BA (Honours) thesis, Queen's University, Kingston, ON.

National Research Council, Food and Nutrition Board. Recommended dietary allowances. 10th ed. Washington, DC: National Academy of Sciences, 1989.

Suggested levels of a variety of nutrients prepared by the FNB of the NAS/NRC. Separate recommendations are made for different sets of healthy people, grouped by age and gender. All recommendations include a substantial margin of safety and are not to be considered minimum requirements for healthy individuals.

Newman, J. M. (1981). Chinese Immigration Food Habits: a study of the nature and direction of change (Doctoral Dissertation, New York University, 1980). Dissertation Abstracts International. 41(12), 5006.

Study researches 102 immigrants to Queens and Chinatown in New York City, using questionnaires and interviews. Significant changes of food habits occur immediately after immigration, though less for those in Chinatown. After more than five years in the United States, there is a reversal to some traditional food habits no matter where the people live. The most significant changes are for meats and dairy items.

Newman, J. M. (1986). Melting pot: An annotated bibliography and guide to food and nutrition information for ethic groups in American. 1st ed. New York: Garland publishing.

The book addresses food, nutrition, and health related dietary concerns of the major ethic groups in the United States. Through annotations it identifies culture, social, and economic markers and provides knowledge of food habits, general dietary, nutrition, and related health problems and practices of the many ethic groups.

Newman, J. M., & Ludman E. K. (1984). Chinese elderly: Food habits and beliefs. Journal of Nutrition Elderly, 4(2), 3-13.

Comparison of Chinese elderly in China and The United States reveals more striking similarities than differences. Data show that traditional beliefs still control dietary practices. Over 90% drinks soup as the beverage of choices at meals, 27% tea, and 20% water. No other beverage is consumed by more than 10%. 58% by special foods for the elderly and about half of these are high in protein.

Rao, M. S. A. (1986). Conservatism and change in food habits among the migrants in India: A study in gastrodynamics. In Khare, R. S. Rao, M. S. A. (Ed.), Food, society & culture ( pp. 121-140). North Carolina: Carolina Academic Press.

The aim of this paper is to deal with changing dietary styles and food behavior, called gastrodynamics, in the context of immigration. Situational contexts are interrelated, such as ecological and economic changes, discovery or innovation of foods, and diffusion or borrowing of food habits from other, the context of migration to bring about changes in food is focus on this paper.

Schultz, J. D., & Sindler, A. A. (1995). Diet and acculturation in Chinese women. Journal of Nutrition Education, 26(6), 266-272.

Three groups of women were recruited to assess nutrition-related acculturation in Chinese-American women. The finding refutes the commonly held notion that Chinese consume low-fat diets. Nutrition knowledge about fat was low. Chinese women responded that nutrition influences their food choices. More nutrition-dense diets, greater nutrition knowledge, and to a lesser extent, improved attitudes about nutrition indicate acculturation of US-born, CA women.

Shirley, S. H. (1995). Dietary Intake Patterns of Vietnamese in California. Journal for Nutrition Education, 27(6), 63-68.

Study of the dietary intake patterns among Vietnamese immigrants reported Vietnamese respondents consuming a mean of 1.3 serving of fruits or fruit juices daily and 1.8 servings of vegetables daily. Linear regression analyses showed that earlier immigrants were significantly less likely to consume eggs and salty foods, that younger individuals were more likely to consume beef and fried foods and to drink alcohol.

Suinn, R. M., Ahuna, C., & Khoo, G. (1992). The Suinn-Lew Asian self-identity Acculturation Scale: Concurrent and factorial validation. Educational and Psychological Measurement, 52, 1041-1046.

The correctional and analysis of variance data confirm the concurrent validity of the SL-ASIA as measure of level of acculturation for Asian-Americans on the large sample. One of the interpretable factors were identified for the SL-ASIA is food preference including items regarding the types of food a person preferred eating at home or in restaurants.

Tian, H. G., Nan, Y., Dong, Q. N., Yang, X. L., Pietinen, P., & Nissinen, A. (1995). Dietary survey in a Chinese population. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 49, 26-32.

The survey was carried out in Tianjin, one of the three largest cities in China. Distinct differences in dietary pattern and nutrient intakes were found between subjects

living in urban and rural area. The diet of urban people was richer in fat and high quality protein compared with the diet of rural people. Cholesterol intake was much higher among the urban people.

Wheeler, E. & Poh, T. S. (1983). Food for equilibrium: The dietary principles and practice of Chinese families in London. In The Sociology of Food and Eating. Edited by A. Murcott. Hants, England: Gower Publishing Co., 1983, pp. 84-94.

Fifty families all but one have females practicing a pragmatic version of traditional medicine and health care with their choice of foods influenced by this system. Their teenagers are not learning the system in depth as they used to.

Yang, G. I. P., & Fox, H. (1979). Food habit changes of Chinese persons living in Lincoln, Nebraska. Journal of American Dietetic Association, 75, 420-424.

Study of qualitative and quantitative changes in food habits of first-generation Chinese shows incorporation of American foods prepared in a Chinese manner. Some decrease in use of Chinese foods and a flexible attitude are shown. American food is used at breakfast and lunch; at dinner Chinese foods are prepared.