Family hospitality and ethnic tradition among South Asian, Italian and general population women in the West of Scotland

Helen Bush, Rory Williams, Hannah Bradby, Annie Anderson, Michael Lean

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    39 Citations (Scopus)


    South Asians have a high risk of heart disease in Britain and
    Italians low, and there are corresponding differences in total
    energy and total fat intake. The present paper explores how far
    obligatory patterns of food intake exist in either group and are
    reflected in conventions of hospitality. Both groups are from
    peasant-based economies, where, despite the common pattern of
    low fat intake, food occupies a high proportion of family
    income, and is correspondingly important as a part of gift
    exchange in marriage, and as a bearer of collective meanings.
    Open-ended questions on meals suitable for family hospitality
    were asked of South Asian women (63 born abroad, 56 in
    Britain), and Italian women (39 abroad, 51 in Britain) together
    with 50 women from the general population, all aged 20–40 and
    resident in the West of Scotland urban area. The traditional
    family meal of the Glasgow general population corresponds to
    the cooked dinner described in South Wales, and suggests a pan-
    British cultural symbol. However traditional family hospitality
    meals play a more important part in the life of migrant South
    Asians and Italians than they do in the majority culture, and
    British-born South Asians maintain this pattern more than
    British-born Italians. This pattern of hospitality, in an economy
    where energy-dense foods are readily available, may result in high
    energy intake and increased coronary risk. However realisation
    of these implications, and increased weight consciousness, can
    lead to restoration of the traditional cardioprotective diet.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)351-380
    Number of pages30
    JournalSociology of Health & Illness
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - 1998


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