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Obesity, Child feeding, Immigrant, Vietnamese, Focus groups



  1. Babington, Lynn PhD, RN
  2. Patel, Bavika MS, CCRN


Purpose: To understand the feeding practices, knowledge, and nutritional beliefs of Vietnamese mothers with young children who are recent immigrants to the United States.


Study Design and Methods: Exploratory, descriptive study using a focus group design to provide qualitative data. Twelve Vietnamese mothers of children under the age of 5 years participated in a 1-hour focus group discussion (in Vietnamese) facilitated by a Vietnamese nutritionist and the principal investigator.


Results: The study participants identified that breastfeeding is healthier for babies than formula but reported the difficulty in maintaining breastfeeding due to work and family constraints. A traditional Vietnamese diet of meat or fish with soup broth, vegetables, and rice was the preferred and healthiest diet for children under the age of 6 years. There was consensus in the group that "junk food" and inactivity were unhealthy for children and led to overweight and obesity. Several of the group participants verbalized difficulty in maintaining a healthy diet for their children because the children demanded unhealthy food choices, and their work schedules made it difficult to make sure their children were getting adequate exercise.


Clinical Implications: This knowledge can be used by nurses to develop culturally appropriate interventions for immigrants from Vietnam aimed at preventing childhood obesity. Interventions that consider the effects of acculturation could be more effective when targeted to parents of young children than interventions focused on treatment of obesity in later years.