Cultural Influences on African Migrant Pregnant and Postnatal Women’s Dietary Behaviours and Nutrition Support Needs in the UK

Lem Ngongalah*, Tim Rapley, Judith Rankin, Nicola Heslehurst

*Corresponding author for this work

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Abstract

Black women in the UK face significantly higher risks of overweight and obesity and adverse pregnancy outcomes compared to women from other ethnic groups. Maternal nutrition plays a pivotal role in influencing the health outcomes of women and their children, especially during preconception and pregnancy. Cultural and environmental factors significantly influence the dietary experiences of African women after migration. This study explored the unique nutrition-related challenges faced by African migrant pregnant and postnatal women in the UK, and their nutrition support needs. Interviews were conducted with 23 African migrant women living in the UK, who were either pregnant or had a pregnancy within the past 3 years. These were analysed thematically, resulting in five overarching themes: food rituals and beliefs, pregnancy cravings, limited access to culturally appropriate food, limited access to culturally appropriate and evidence-based nutritional guidance, and the focus on healthy weight. The study identified challenges that African migrant women face in balancing their cultural heritage with the UK food environment and dietary recommendations, including potential implications on their health and pregnancy outcomes. It emphasised the importance of addressing these challenges through culturally sensitive approaches and tailored interventions, to enable informed decision making and enhance health outcomes for these women.
Original languageEnglish
Article number4135
Number of pages15
JournalNutrients
Volume15
Issue number19
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 25 Sept 2023

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