September 1, 2014

Developing a Multicultural Nutrition Education Tool: Pacific Island Food Models

Nicole K. Baumhofer, M.P.H., M.A., Nani Rothfus, M.P.H., R.D., Sheryl Yoshimura, M.P.H., R.D., Michelle L. Quensell, B.S., and Mele A. Look, M.B.A.

Journal of Nutrition Education & Behavior

Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders (NHOPI) are one of the highest-risk U.S. populations affected by the cardiometobolic diseases of obesity, diabetes, and heart disease, which can be improved with increased nutrition education and counseling.1 Barriers for health improvements through effective nutrition education include: limited English proficiency, differences in social norms related to food, and limited availability of preferred food items. Development and dissemination of innovative tools, such as culturally relevant food models, are needed in order to address these barriers. In 2004 the Center for Native and Pacific Health Disparities Research (Center) at the University of Hawai‘i, John A. Burns School of Medicine conducted a health education needs assessment of community health agencies serving NHOPI.2 When asked what type of support the community health agencies needed to provide quality cardiovascular disease education to their population, agency representatives indicated that much of the nutrition counseling and education material currently available was not representative of a Pacific population. Food models of NHOPI ethnic foods were specifically identified as a priority to assist effective nutrition counseling and education in multilingual and low-literacy populations.

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