From China to the US: nutrition, diet and acculturation of Chinese employed in high-tech industries - Results from a web-based survey

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Background: Due to the fast development of economies in China and the great needs of professionals in the US, the population of highly educated young Chinese professionals working in high-tech industries has grown very fast in both countries. This population was suggested to have risk of consuming high energy and fat diet in both countries.

Objectives: This study aimed to investigate the associations of dietary intake with nutrition knowledge, attitude, dietary self-efficacy and acculturation among Chinese working in high-tech industries in China and in the US.

Methods: This study was a cross-sectional self-administered online survey. We studied 925 Chinese aged 20-45 years, who worked in high-tech industries and had at least a bachelor degree in four sub-groups: employees of Chinese companies in China; employees of American companies in China; Chinese-born immigrant in the US; and American-born Chinese in the US. A web-based questionnaire including a food frequency questionnaire (FFQ) was developed to assess total energy and fat intakes, nutrition knowledge, attitudes, dietary self-efficacy. Four domains of acculturation were assessed among Chinese in the US. Using these data, we compared the four sub-groups and tested the prediction model of dietary intake and BMI.

Results: Our results showed that American-born Chinese participants consumed significantly higher energy and fat than the other three groups. Participants in the US had higher nutrition knowledge, attitude and self- efficacy than participants in China. Chinese-born immigrant men in the US had the highest nutrition knowledge and attitude and the lowest prevalence of overweight among the four study groups of men. The study results suggested that preferring Chinese food and Chinese leisure activity are predictors of lower energy and fat intake in Chinese-born immigrants.

Conclusions: The Chinese-born immigrants showed significant advantages in nutrition knowledge, attitude, and dietary self-efficacy and had the lowest prevalence of overweight in men. American-born Chinese consumed the highest energy and fat among the four study groups even though their nutrition knowledge, attitude and self-efficacy were high. Future nutrition promotion programs should make use of these cultural and environmental differences when designing theses programs. The web-based survey method can be utilized in future nutrition research.