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The role of social capital in changing dietary behavior in a low-income multi-ethnic community

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Item Summary

Title: The role of social capital in changing dietary behavior in a low-income multi-ethnic community
Authors: Buchthal, Opal Vanessa
Keywords: social capital
nutrition
poverty
food insecurity
Issue Date: May 2012
Publisher: [Honolulu] : [University of Hawaii at Manoa], [May 2012]
Abstract: Poor dietary quality contributes to health disparities experienced by low-income populations. Although prior studies have examined factors shaping dietary behavior among individual ethnic groups, there is little knowledge about structural factors shaping dietary decisions within multi-ethnic low-income communities. Low-income households have fewer resources for purchasing healthy food, and greater demands on the economic, time and labor resources required for meal preparation. With limited economic resources, families may rely on social capital resources to manage food within the household. However, social capital structures within a multi-ethnic community are likely to be complex.
This dissertation explores the role of social capital in shaping dietary behavior in a multi-ethnic low-income Asian and Pacific Islander community in Hawaiʻi. The first study presents findings from a systematic literature review on the operationalization of social capital theory in nutrition research. This review identifies the primary theories of social capital underlying nutrition research, and the measures of social capital commonly used in this research.
The second and third studies report on empirical research conducted in Kalihi, a low-income multi-ethnic neighborhood of Honolulu, Hawaiʻi. The second study uses qualitative methods to understand the dimensions of social capital within the community, and the ways that social capital affects household nutrition behaviors. The third study uses network analysis to assesses linkages between community organizations, mapping the structure of institutional social capital within the community.
Together, these studies suggest that families in low-income multi-ethnic communities rely on social capital to provide resource for nutrition, and this reliance shapes dietary behavior. Social capital structures within this community, however, do not fit the theory and measures of social capital most commonly used in nutrition research. Improved theory and measure selection would strengthen the utility of social capital theory as a tool for understanding nutrition behavior. Individual social capital operates through extended family and ethnic group ties, not neighborhood geography. Access to bridging capital was primarily through family connections with childcare and faith-based institutions, but churches were poorly connected in the nutrition network. Building institutional social capital through increasing linkage between these organizations could provide support for improved nutrition across the community.
Description: D.P.H. University of Hawaii at Manoa 2012.
Includes bibliographical references.
URI/DOI: http://hdl.handle.net/10125/101342
Appears in Collections:D.P.H. - Public Health



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