Background: Lower birth weight, often found in infants from minority ethnic groups, may be partly because of the disproportionate representation of ethnic minority groups in low-income areas. To develop an intervention, to improve the nutritional intake of young women from populations at risk of low-birth-weight babies, which would be culturally sensitive and well received by the intended recipients, a community development approach was used to investigate factors that might influence food choice and the nutritional intake of girls and young women from ethnic minority groups.
Methods: Focus group discussions were conducted across the UK, to explore factors that might affect the food choices of girls and young women of African and South Asian decent. The data was analysed using deductive content analysis (Qual. Soc. Res., 1, 2000, 1). Discussions were around the broad themes of buying and preparing food, eating food and dietary changes, and ideas for an intervention to improve diet.
Results: The focus group discussions indicated that all the communities took time, price, health and availability into consideration when making food purchases. The groups were also quite similar in their use of 'Western' foods which tended to be of the fast food variety. These foods were used when there was not enough time to prepare a 'traditional' meal.
Conclusion: Many issues that affect the food choice of people who move to the UK are common within different ethnic groups. The idea of a practical intervention based on improving cooking skills was popular with all the groups.