This study examined the practices, personal motivation, and barriers of African American communities in Mississippi regarding their dietary practices. We selected the Metro Jackson Area comprised of Hinds, Madison and Rankin Counties because it is a combination of urban and rural communities. The sample consisted of 70 participants from seven sites. A total of seven focus groups responded to six questions to assess practices, personal motivation, and barriers to dietary practices: (1) Where in your community can you access fresh fruits and vegetables? (2) How many meals a day should a person eat? (3) What would you consider to be a healthy breakfast, lunch and dinner? (4) What would you consider to be a healthy snack? (5) What do you consider to be your motivations for eating healthy? (6) What do you consider to be your barriers to eating healthy? Each of the seven focus groups consisted of 6 to 12 participants and provided details of their dietary practices. The focus group interviews were digitally-recorded. The recorded interviews were transcribed. The majority of the participants stated that there is a limited availability of fresh fruits/vegetables in rural areas because of a shortage of grocery stores. When they do find fruits, they are priced very high and are unaffordable. Even though health conditions dictate food frequency and portion size, community members feel that individuals should eat three good balanced meals per day with snacks, and they should adhere to small portion sizes. While the desire to attain overall good health and eliminate associative risks for heart disease (e.g., diabetes, obesity) are personal motivations, the cost of food, transportation, age, and time required for food preparation were seen as barriers to healthy eating. Decisions regarding meal choice and meal frequency can have an impact on long-term health outcomes. Health promotion programs should become an integral part of academic- community collaborative agreements.
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