Changing dietary habits of ethnic groups in Europe and implications for health


S Khokhar, Procter Department of Food Science, University of Leeds, Leeds LS2 9JT, UK. E-mail:, Phone: +44-1133432975, Fax: +44-1133432982


A systematic review of the literature suggests the dietary habits of some ethnic groups living in Europe are likely to become less healthy as individuals increase consumption of processed foods that are energy dense and contain high levels of fat, sugar, and salt. Such products often replace healthy dietary components of the native diet, such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, and grains. Mixed food habits are emerging mainly amongst younger people in the second and third generations, most likely due to acculturation and adoption of a Western lifestyle. Age and immigrant generation are the major factors accounting for changes in dietary habits, whilst income, level of education, dietary laws, religion, and food beliefs are also important factors. Obesity, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and hypertension present major problems for the mainstream European population. However, the risk of chronic disease is reported to be higher in ethnic populations, particularly South Asians, African Caribbeans, and Mexicans.