A Comparison of Turkish Students in Istanbul and Syracuse: Using Three-Day Food Records, Surveys, and PhotoVoice to Evaluate Changes in Dietary Habits with Acculturation and Plan an Appropriate Nutrition Intervention
Bound Volume Number
Honors Capstone Project
Date of Submission
Dr. Sudha Raj
Dr. Matthew Mulvaney
Nutrition Science and Dietetics
dietary habits, Turkish, immigrants
Capstone Prize Winner
Won Capstone Funding
Dietetics and Clinical Nutrition
The immigrant population of the United States is growing rapidly, so the health status of immigrant populations is an important public health issue. When it comes to nutrition, research has shown that immigration to the United States is often associated with an increased risk of chronic diseases, in particular, those related to dietary changes that include lower fruit and vegetable consumption and higher fat intake (Satia et al., 2002).
“Dietary acculturation” is the term used to describe the changing dietary patterns of immigrants, but in this research it is used in relation to the changing dietary habits of international students coming to the United States (Satia, 2010). Nutrition professionals can use dietary acculturation research to help specific groups have a more positive and healthy acculturation experience. In these cases, understanding the culture from which people come, and how their habits change in the United States, is crucial for successful client-counselor relationships. Since less attention is often given to smaller populations, their acculturation experiences of such people are largely undocumented.
This project focuses specifically on Turkish students who have come to Syracuse University, in the United States, and how their dietary habits compare to their peers in Istanbul, Turkey. The students are not immigrants; however, the changes in their dietary habits are useful to study because they are preliminary changes that could set the framework for how their dietary habits might change if they were to immigrate.
There are four key components to this project. First, I actively engaged in a process of seeking out activities to increase my own cultural competency: “recognizing and reforming one’s attitudes, beliefs, skills, values, and levels of awareness to provide culturally appropriate, respectful, and relevant care and education” (Goody, 2010). Second, I collected dietary and food cultural data from Turkish students in both Istanbul and Syracuse for comparison. Third, I organized a nutrition education intervention to encourage healthy dietary acculturation for Turkish students at Syracuse University. Finally, there is this report which documents my complete transition from knowing very little about Turkish culture to being able to work closely with Turkish students to improve their dietary habits. It displays how nutrition professionals with very little background knowledge on any culture can expose themselves to the culture and actively learn about it to improve their cultural competency, learn about acculturation issues, and plan an appropriate intervention. It also displays the importance of working with minority groups who would otherwise be lost on a large campus. It is hoped to be an example for other students and nutrition professionals, who with their own cultural interests and target populations, are trying to best meet the needs of their clients’.
Peterson, Brittany L., "A Comparison of Turkish Students in Istanbul and Syracuse: Using Three-Day Food Records, Surveys, and PhotoVoice to Evaluate Changes in Dietary Habits with Acculturation and Plan an Appropriate Nutrition Intervention" (2015). Syracuse University Honors Program Capstone Projects. 874.
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