In June 2011, BNF published a new Briefing Paper on diets of minority ethnic groups in the UK: influence on chronic disease risk and implications for prevention.
According to the latest census, non-white minority ethnic groups made up 7.9% of the UK's population in 2001. The largest of these groups were South Asians, Black African-Caribbeans and Chinese. Studies have shown that some minority ethnic groups are more likely to experience poorer health outcomes compared with the mainstream population. These include higher rates of cardiovascular disease (CVD), type 2 diabetes and obesity. The differences in health outcomes may reflect interactions between diet and other health behaviours, genetic predisposition and developmental programming, all of which vary across different groups.
As is the case for the rest of the population, the dietary habits of minority ethnic groups are affected by a wide variety of factors, but acquiring a better understanding of these can help health professionals and educationalists to recognise the needs of these groups and help them to make healthier food choices. Unfortunately, to date, there have been few tailored, well-designed and evaluated nutritional interventions in the UK targeting minority ethnic population groups. Further needs assessment and better evaluation of nutritional interventions have been recommended to enhance the understanding of the effectiveness of different approaches amongst minority ethnic groups.
This briefing paper provides an overview of the health profile, dietary habits and other health behaviours of the three largest non-white minority ethnic groups in the UK, exploring the factors affecting their food choices, providing a summary of their traditional diets and reviewing the evidence base to identify the factors that support successful nutrition interventions in these groups.