Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Food Science and Nutrition


Food Science, Technology, Nutrition and Dietetics

First Advisor

Marjorie Caldwell


The study investigated food habit change in a low-income Portuguese population, established factors which influence the nature and extent of change and evaluates the extent of change on dietary adequacy. Families were referred from the W.I.C. program (Women, Infants and Children) thus insuring a low income population. Food intake records were obtained for one pre-school child and the mother. A total of 50 families were contacted. In addition, a questionnaire was administered by interview. Questions were asked concerning child feeding practices and interaction with the non-Portuguese community

The results of the study revealed that traditional family meals are modified because of food availability and economics. Irrespective of the time spent in the country, there is still an adherence to a Portuguese or a combination of Portuguese and American method of cooking. According to the acculturation scale, food habits and traditions were the most resistant to change. A marked degree of correlation (= -0.6153) was found to exist between immigrant mother's acculturation level and her dietary level. These findings indicate that as the level of acculturation increases, the dietary level will also increase or improve to a point, then as the immigrant's diet becomes more Americanized it will decrease. On the whole, the immigrant mothers and children tended to eat better balanced meals than did their American counterpart.

The results of the study also reveal an unusual finding in that, ascorbic acid and vitamin A intakes for the children were more than twice the RDA inspite of the fact that this is one of the most frequently reported nutritional problems among low-income children in the United States

Modification of traditional food habits does occur over time. Change, as observed in this study is not always for the better. A meaningful and positive approach to the study of food habits is to investigate the positive elements of the ethnic pattern and work within that framework to produce healthy changes.



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