South Asian migrants in Europe at increased risk of diet-related diseases

May 7th, 2009 - 2:25 pm ICT by ANI  

Washington, May 7 (ANI): South Asian people migrating to Europe face an increased risk of diet-related diseases as they adjust to a ‘Western’ lifestyle, according to scientists.

Indian-origin researcher Dr. Santosh Khokhar, at the University of Leeds’ School of Food Science and Nutrition, has found that immigrant populations replace the healthy components of their native diet with the worst aspects of western diets, such as processed and fast foods.

She says that the risks are greater among younger generations of the immigrant groups, as they are more likely than their elders to eat less healthy foods found in their new country.

Dr. Khokhar examined changes to the diets of African-Caribbeans, Chinese, Mexicans, Moroccans, Surinamese, South Asians and Turks living in Europe.

Her study showed that ethnic groups with low incomes had the most restricted food choice because the foods of their traditional diet had to be imported and thus were more expensive, whereas the availability of the unhealthiest western food was very high and also low cost.

The Senior Lecturer in Food Biochemistry said that elements of the traditional diets were being “replaced” with less healthy alternatives.

“The inclusion of snack foods such as French fries, chips and cakes leads to ethnic populations having higher levels of fat, salt and sugar in their diet,” she said.

She further revealed that people belonging to lower socio-economic communities “often eat poorer quality foods, such as cheaper cuts of meat with more fat. They also tend to buy less fruits and vegetables and they consume more processed foods.”

The researcher proposed that the decline in the nutritional quality of the diet led to ethnic groups becoming “more susceptible to diet-related health problems similar to those affecting the mainstream population in Europe, such as obesity, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes.”

“The ethnic group that integrated most strongly with their host country rapidly adopted the disease patterns of the host,” she said.

The study has been published in the journal Nutrition Reviews. (ANI)

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