Punjabi diet study to advice on disease control

September 30th, 2008 - 9:18 am ICT by IANS  

Vancouver, Sep 30 (IANS) In a study with implications for all ethnic Indians, a Canadian university has carried out an extensive research on eating habits of the Punjabi community here to suggest new nutrition guidelines to check food-related diseases among them.“Since cardiovascular diseases and type II diabetes are more prevalent among Indians and they are linked to food habits, we wanted to understand what ingredients went into daily Punjabi or Indian meals,” study leader and University of British Columbia University nutrition professor Gwen Chapman told IANS.

“On the basis on our data, we can suggest what ingredients should be incorporated in daily diet, and what they should emphasize or avoid,” she said.

Chapman said the Canadians of Punjabi, European and African origin were the three ethnic groups chosen for the study.

Conducted jointly by the University of British Columbia in Vancouver and the School of Occupational Therapy in Dalhousie over three years, it is the first study of food choices in ethnic communities who are at above-average risk for heart disease and diabetes.

Chapman said the study will contribute to better health promotion and nutrition education.

“Food and eating aren’t just about disease prevention, but relate to multiple dimensions of well-being,” she said. “Many families prioritize cultural and ethical concerns when deciding what goes into their grocery cart.”

She said their study showed that food was also much more than disease prevention for people. Regardless of their ethnicity, families find comfort in traditional foods.

“Since cultural affiliations and ethnicity come into play while making dietary choices, food is such an important part of cultural identity in today’s world,” Chapman said.

Narrating their experiences during the study, she said her team found that families of European origin often credit “meat and potatoes” meals for providing them comfort.

In Punjabi families in British Columbia, there are no “consensus meals” and separate meals are often prepared to accommodate elders who need traditional roti, daal and subji, and younger family members who prefer to balance Indian and “Canadian” foods, she said.

As part of their study, Chapman and her team hired Punjabi-speaking assistants to shop and eat with the chosen families for a certain length of time.

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