Unhealthy eating is a major risk factor for obesity and associated chronic non-communicable diseases, with the Caribbean having the worst rates in the Americas. Approximately 10% of U.S. immigrants originate from the Caribbean, and it’s important to address this issue before these populations become U.S. immigrants.
Americanization is fueling unhealthy eating in Jamaica, where there is a trend toward unhealthy Western diets (sugary, salty, fatty). Data indicate that adopting a part-American identity in Jamaica is linked to watching more US cable TV daily, which is then linked to eating more unhealthy foods. Because compelling evidence shows that time spent watching TV is a major contributor to unhealthy eating, successful media literacy programs have been designed to teach U.S. youth and families critical evaluation skills about unhealthy food advertising. However, there are currently no healthy eating or media literacy interventions in the Caribbean accounting for U.S. media presence, and a need exists for food-focused U.S. media literacy training in Jamaica, as a case study for similar settings.
The long-term goal is to implement effective family health prevention programs in developing regions. By combatting risk factors for unhealthy eating in Jamaica, this intervention has the potential to make a substantial positive contribution to improving diet and decreasing risk for chronic disease among future U.S. immigrants.
- Gail M. Ferguson, PhD, Principal Investigator, Assistant Professor, Department of Human Development and Family Studies
- Michelle R. Nelson, PhD, Co-Principal Investigator, Associate Professor, Department of Advertising
- Julie Meeks, PhD, Co-Investigator, Professor, The University of the West Indies
This project is funded through the Christopher Family Foundation Food and Family Program and the Fogarty International Center.
Gail M. Ferguson