Assimilation & Nutrition

The Lempert Report
June 16, 2022

Phil: Another study is going to be at that same nutrition conference, the American Society for Nutrition, which talks about how acculturation affects what teens eat and what they found. So what they did is they looked at more than 6,000 adolescents age 12 to 19 that were in the National Health and Nutrition Examination survey between the years, 2007 and 2018. And what they found that adolescents who live in the US, but were born in another country, consume more vegetables, more seafood, more plant protein, and less added sugar than those that are born in the US. I'm not surprised at this, are you?

Sally: I'm not surprised. And, you know, I think this is very interesting information for us. You know, some people may be put off by it by it, because it kind of is saying that people from other countries have better diets than Americans do. The fact is, yes, the fact is, is we eat so many ultra-processed foods here. Other cultures eat more fruits and vegetables and grains in their diet. And I, you know, I am a working mother. So this is not anything against any parent that is out working, but, you know, in some of these cultures, they've got a parent at home that doesn't work outside of the home that is preparing fresh meals for them, you know, for their family regularly. And so they naturally are going to eat better. So I think it's really, it's really good information for us, our kids to take some cues from maybe.

Phil: Yeah. And, and also, let's not forget, we are a culture that has been, you know, grown up on sugar, salt, and fat. And until we change that until we, you know, change what kids are eating from a very early age and they don't acquire, that addictive behavior, as it relates to sugar, salt, and fat, we're gonna continue to have this problem. You can't just flick a switch and now say, oh, I'm gonna eat healthy for the rest of my life. 

Sally: Right. And, you know, promoting these traditional foods to people who come from other cultures here and like trying to, you know, we've read about how the dietary guidelines should be based on people's cultural backgrounds and promoting those traditional foods to them. Not only does it benefit them, but, you know, as a mother, I feel like it benefits my kids because when they become friends with someone at school that eats a certain way, that is based on their culture, they learn about new foods and new things to eat. So I think it's a win-win for everyone. 

Phil: Yeah. I agree with you.