Dietary Choices And Health

Case Study 1

1. Diet and nutrition are varied across the globe with dietary choices being determined by the environment and the eating habits of one ethnic group in comparison to others. Due to the difference in tradition, eating habits and the environment of the ethnic group the various communities have differences in their perception of health. The phenomenon can be explained by the fact that these communities have a higher affinity for various food groups such as Chinese people who get the least amount of energy from fat sources. The group, therefore, does not ingest large amounts of fat. Another example can be derived from the Literature review by Vanessa Higgin on the Ethnic Differences in Obesity, Diet and Physical Activity which showed that the UK south Asians are healthier compared to their white counterparts (Higgins, 2008). This comparison also speaks volume concerning the most consumed food groups by the two groups.

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Prevalence of obesity was found to be varied across the ethnicities in the same study by Higgins (2008), and it was largely determined by the food groups most consumed. Obesity has for example been found to increase with age and to be more prevalence among the African American community, Indian women, Black Caribbean and Black Africans. This apparent difference in the health perception and food choices by the different ethnic groups contributes to the observed differences that eventually lead to the illness associated with a lifestyle such as obesity, diabetes type II and a heart condition. However, the ethnic differences by encouraging better eating habits such as the increase in vegetable and fruit portions by these ethnic groups can be achieved. The illnesses associated with poor dietary choices can be averted by eating better options despite the ethnic community. Overall, ethnic differences in health and the impact of the illnesses in these communities can be solved by an increased awareness on the statistics on the health impacts of poor food choices and also a change in the perception of health and physical activity.

2. From previous studies that have been conducted on the subject, the ethnic differences in health perception and the impact to their overall health, various factors inform the person on their need to change their diet and be more conscious of their health. Healthy eating is attached to various factors such as the gender, age, educational background and the social class that the individual belongs to and thus their ability to choose particular foods that are deemed either healthy or unhealthy. Seeing that there are many determinants that influence the choices made by individuals on their diet, it is no surprise that culture plays a central role in influencing this critical decision on a diet. Culture has over time in different communities determined the attitude that people have to body fat, and consequently the body shape. In some cultures and especially the less prosperous positive relationships are drawn between socio-economic status and body weight.

On the other hand, the more affluent societies often have a negative implication of body fat and prefer a lower body weight. Depending on the society the individual is in, then their perception of their health, body weight and their influence on food choices will be significantly affected. For example, non-western communities such as the African communities, body weight is associated with wealth/poverty, fertility or lack thereof, femininity and even their sexual capacity. Additionally, their income status would also contribute to the perception of health and illnesses. Prosperous people or people in a higher income bracket have the ability to eat healthy choices which are often expensive while a lower income bracket would lead to consumption of affordable and accessible food such as fast food which is unhealthy. Therefore, income and the culture shape the person’s perception of health and illness as related to their overall health.

Case Study 2

According to the case study, Caitlin a nurse in a clinic has observed that patients have different perceptions of pain. They also have distinct variations in the manner they manage their pain and for instance, some of her patients who experience acute pain report it as chronic pain. In a study, pain perception differences between patients and physicians: a pain severity study in patients with low back pain, it was shown that definition and experience of pain were subjective and thus the individual decides how much pain is too much and thus disregarding the true definition of pain as provided by medicine. This means that what one patient term to be extreme pain may be described as mild pain by another patient despite the level of pain being the same. One of the factors that influence the perception of pain in patients is culture, gender, age and expectations.

According to Wandner et al. (2013) on the study, the perception of pain in others, pain is perceived differently by these sexes, expectations and even gender role expectations. The variability in pain between men and women can be explained by the expectations set by society for instance, that men are stronger and thus have a higher tolerance for pain while women cannot handle extreme pain. Conversely, women that expect childbirth to be painful are better placed to handle it and thus may report lower pain experience as opposed to women who have low expectations for the pain they will experience. Additionally, stereotypes such as those associated with race, age and gender often have various connotations associated with pain.

The study also showed that participants reported different pain experiences, pain severity and pain tolerance as a result of the ingrained pain-related stereotypes. Categorization of pain among patients is therefore influenced by the culture in their society in relation to pain and also the stereotypes that have for a long time being repeated and spread and finally ingrained in people. Stereotypes that have also been accepted deeply influence the perception of pain by patients. To accurately determine the level of pain that her patients are experiencing, Caitlin can ask to follow up questions and focusing on the pain description, and also asking questions on their culture which can reveal any stereotypes that have been accepted by the individual and thus affecting their pain.

Case Study 3

1. Stress is a phenomenon that is experienced by millions across the world. Different people have different coping mechanisms, and as explained in the case study, Jayna and Alisha have varied symptoms of stress and also coping mechanisms. On the one hand, Alisha claims that her stress symptom, migraines, runs in the family while Jayna claims that growing up in a stressful environment has enabled her to easily deal with stress and thus the lack of persistent headaches. One of the explanations to explain the difference in coping with stress between Jayna and Alisha is their upbringing. They have a different upbringing which impacted them differently. For instance, expecting stressful situations and anticipating the stress has led to Jayna accepting that migraines are part of stress and thus exacerbating them. The other explanation for the difference is the culture that the person has been brought up in, for example, for Jayna it is clear that her upbringing and culture has led to her coping mechanism which is helpful since her headaches end with the end of the stressful situation. Constantly being in an environment where stress is a common phenomenon may have strengthened the individual into being better at handling stress. 2. Similarly, these two factors impact their short term and long term reactions to stress. Alisha will have a more difficult time dealing with stress in future due to her upbringing and perception of stress and a poor coping mechanism. Her acceptance of migraines as a stress symptom that runs in the family will mean that later when experiencing stress, she might overlook and ignore her migraines while hoping that the stressful situation ends. This lack of a proper coping mechanism could also negatively impact her health. Conversely, Jayna will have an easier time dealing with stress due to her perception of stress influenced by her upbringing and culture. Her coping mechanism have been created and shaped by being under stress for most of the time during her childhood and young adulthood. Such factors therefor matter and contribute to the way that the person decided to deal with stress.

Case Study 4

The transactional model is a framework that aids in the evaluation of processes associated with coping mechanisms for stress. Sources of stress, according to the model, are attached to the person and the environment. This means that transactions are largely influenced by the impact of the stress causing stimuli in the environment/ external stressors. In the face of the stress, the individual is advised to evaluate the potential threat, and this step is critical. The step is critical because of the person’s perception of the stressful situation as being controllable, positive, challenging or irrelevant help with their coping mechanism. Depending on the manner the individual perceives their stress then they are better placed dealing with the situation. Such factors therefor matter and contribute to the way that the person decided to deal with stress. The next appraisal, also called the secondary appraisal, helps the person determine the steps they will take in addressing the potentially stressful situation. In the second appraisal, the person can even monitor the sources and potential solutions to their stress. To this end, sources of stress are often within the environment of the individual due to transaction or relations of the person and the environment. Whether the potential stress was accused by a difficult personal and life event or

deadlines at work and other work-related stresses, the individual still has to assess the situation sung the first and second appraisal.

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References

  • Higgins, V. (2008). Ethnic Differences in Obesity, Diet and Physical Activity - A Literature Review. The University of Manchester, 1(1), 2-20.
  • Sari, O., Temiz, C., Golcur, M., Aydogan, U., Tanoglu, A., Ezgu, M., & Tehli, O. (2015). Pain perception differences between patients and physicians: a pain severity study in patients with low back pain. Turkish Neurosurgery, 25(3). doi: 10.5137/1019-5149.jtn.13481-14.1
  • Sonnentag, S., & Fritz, C. (2014). Recovery from job stress: The stressor-detachment model as an integrative framework. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 36(S1), S72-S103. doi: 10.1002/job.1924
  • Zilanawala, A., Davis-Kean, P., Nazroo, J., Sacker, A., Simonton, S., & Kelly, Y. (2014). Race/ethnic disparities in early childhood BMI, obesity and overweight in the United Kingdom and the United States. International Journal of Obesity, 39(3), 520-529. doi: 10.1038/ijo.2014.171

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