Exploring the dietary practices and perceptions of African immigrants in Illinois- a qualitative study of immigrants from Nigeria and Congo

Oluwatosin Akingbule, Margarita Teran-Garcia, Reginald Alston

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: Previous studies suggest an increased prevalence of diet-related chronic diseases among African immigrants with increased length of stay in the U.S. The objective of the current study is to understand the dietary practices and perceptions of recent African immigrant families. Design: Focus group sessions were conducted with Nigerian and Congolese immigrant parents residing in Illinois. Participants were recruited using convenience sampling methods and focus group sessions were conducted via videoconference. Participants discussed dietary practices, meal preparation, and family mealtimes for their families. They also discussed experiences with eating different kinds of foods since arrival in the U.S. Verbatim transcription of focus group sessions were completed and deductive thematic analysis of transcribed data was conducted using NVivo (QSR International Pty Ltd. [2020] NVivo [version 12]). Results: Twenty African immigrant parents (Mean age: 42 years, Female: 95%) residing in Northern and Central Illinois participated in a total of five focus group sessions. Seven themes were derived from the analysis. Participants had a positive attitude toward healthy diet and had a high level of interest in receiving educational resources to make healthier food choices. Participants preferred and mostly consumed foods they were familiar with before migration. A majority of the participants perceived ‘American foods’ as unhealthy, characterizing them as containing a high amount of sugar and salt. Parents reported that their school-aged children often preferred a western diet over traditional African meals. Conclusion: This study helps to understand unique diet-related practices and perceptions of recent Nigerian and Congolese African immigrants in Illinois. Findings could help to inform cultural adaptation of evidence-based nutrition education programs for these groups of African immigrants.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)353-370
Number of pages18
JournalEthnicity and Health
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2024


  • African immigrants
  • Congolese immigrants
  • Nigerian immigrants
  • dietary acculturation
  • dietary behaviors
  • dietary perception

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Cultural Studies
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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