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The Experience of Dietary Culture and Cardiovascular Disease

The current ANS featured article is titled “Dietary Culture: A Concept Analysis” by Elise A. Mollohan, MSN, RN, CNE.  In this article Mollohan defines dietary culture as patterned group eating behaviors that are unconsciously influenced and socially organized, and explains how these patterns can increase the understanding of the links between diet, culture, and cardiovascular health. For more information, download your copy of the article at no cost while it is featured! Ms. Mollohand provided this message for ANS readers:

I am intimately familiar with cardiovascular disease, as many of us are. My personal and professional experiences with the devastating effects of heart disease prompted me to make significant dietary changes several years ago.  While I have reaped immense health benefits from modifying my diet, it was not an easy transition. My experience caused me to see diet change through a different lens, becoming acutely aware of the challenges individuals face from a cultural perspective.

While working on my doctoral studies, I began exploring diet change as a strategy to promote cardiovascular health. Much of my initial research left me pondering the connection between cultural influences and diet. I found myself using the words “dietary culture” often when describing obstacles to successful diet change.  However, this concept was not clearly defined in the literature.  I also received questions from others about how our culture could be a barrier to implementing a heart-healthy diet. My need for a clear definition and a more profound understanding of the concept lead me to conduct this analysis.

The analysis process was invaluable to clarifying my understanding of dietary culture in relation to cardiovascular health. The proposed definition will be used to inform my future work, exploring the plant-based diet transition among adults with cardiovascular disease. Also, I hope that this concept analysis will promote an acknowledgment and understanding of the relationship between diet, culture, and cardiovascular health among nurses and other health care providers.

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