Sugars; diet; Mexican-American women; culture; focus groups


Despite the recent federal dietary recommendations to limit consumption of added sugars to less than ten percent of daily caloric intake, there is a gap in published literature examining the influence of food preparation behaviors on sugars consumption among low-income Mexican-American women. The purpose of the study was to describe the cultural context of Mexican-American women in procuring, preparing and presenting added sugars in their families’ diets.

Five focus groups were conducted to examine sugars consumption behavior in thirteen overweight/obese low-income Mexican-American women ages 27-40 years. Themes that emerged during the sessions included: changes in food procurement to include high-sugar foods and sugar-sweetened beverages following migration from Mexico to the U.S.; children’s influence on what was bought and consumed in the household; changes in household diet when relatives prepared food; and influence of family traditions/extensive social gatherings and traditional foods during holidays on sugars consumption. Culturally relevant factors influencing sugars consumption were identified. We report strategies that can be used in public health interventions to reduce sugars intake among low-income Mexican-American women; such strategies must acknowledge cultural and contextual factors of social ties, the role of family members in influencing diet, and importance of maintaining traditional foods and cultural celebrations.