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Investigating dietary acculturation and intake among US-born and Thailand/Laos-born Hmong-American children aged 9–18 years

  • Urvashi Mulasi-Pokhriyal (a1), Chery Smith (a1) and Lisa Franzen-Castle (a2)

The Hmong are a growing population of South-East Asian immigrants with increasing rates of obesity and diabetes, yet little is known about their dietary consumption patterns. The present study aimed to investigate the dietary intake of Hmong children and whether acculturation and/or time lived in the USA influences dietary intake, BMI and nutritional status.


Two 24 h dietary recalls were collected on non-consecutive days using the multiple-pass interviewing method and were averaged. Heights and weights were measured, from which BMI was calculated. An acculturation score was computed.


Schools, churches, Hmong organizations, and community centres.


Three hundred and thirty-five Hmong children aged 9–18 years from Twin Cities, Minnesota, USA.


Approximately half of our participants were either overweight or obese. US-born children were significantly heavier, taller, had a higher BMI, and in general consumed more energy, saturated fat and Na than those who were born in Thailand/Laos and were living in the USA for <5 years. Children who were more acculturated to US norms including language use, social connections and dietary habits had higher BMI-for-age and consumed significantly more saturated fat, trans fatty acids, Na and Ca compared with their less acculturated counterparts.


Diets of most Hmong children appear below the recommendations for fibre, vitamins A, D and E, Ca, P, Mg and K, and are higher in fats, sugars and Na. Living in an obesogenic US environment is a probable reason for poor dietary quality of Hmong and may be a contributing factor to the rising rates of obesity and diabetes in this population.

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