Health beliefs regarding dietary behavior and physical activity of Surinamese Indian immigrants in the Netherlands: a qualitative study

A.M. Hendriks*, J.S. Gubbels, M.W.J. Jansen, S.P.J. Kremers

*Corresponding author for this work

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This study explored the health beliefs about eating habits and physical activity (PA) of Surinamese immigrants of Indian (Hindustani) descent to examine how health education messages to prevent obesity can be made more culturally sensitive. Indians are known for their increasing obesity incidence and are highly vulnerable for obesity-related consequences such as cardiovascular diseases and diabetes. Therefore they might benefit from culturally sensitive health education messages that stimulate healthy eating habits and increase PA levels. In order to examine how health education messages aimed at preventing obesity could be adapted to Indian culture, we interviewed eight Hindustanis living in The Netherland, and conducted two focus groups (n = 19) with members from a Surinamese Hindustani community. Results showed cultural implications that might affect the effectiveness of health education messages: karma has a role in explaining the onset of illness, traditional eating habits are perceived as difficult to change, and PA was generally disliked. We conclude that health education messages aimed at Hindustani immigrants should recognize the role of karma in explaining the onset of illness, include more healthy alternatives for traditional foods, pay attention to the symbolic meaning of food, and suggest more enjoyable and culturally sensitive forms of PA for women.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)ID903868
Number of pages8
JournalISRN Obesity
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2012

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