Food Preferences Survey in African Americans and West Africans: A Cultural Exploration of Agreement and Divergence in Attitudes in Food Environments and Food Responses

  • Catrina Johnson Center for Health, Nutrition & Biomedicine, SIUC DNA Sequencing Facility
  • Robert Corruccini
  • Wanki Moon
  • Kolapo Ajuwon
  • David A. Lightfoot
Keywords: African, African-American,, SES, type 2 diabetes, environment, modeling, observation, parental influence, produce consumption, affordability


African Americans, currently over-represented among low SES groups, have been found to be among the most at risk groups for obesity and type 2 diabetes. Phenotypic expression, such as obesity, result from the combined effect of genetic inheritance and environmental influences. Environmental dynamics interact with individuals on micro, meso and ecto levels (Bronfrenbrenner, 1989), are diverse and cultural (Vygotsky, 1993) and are learned by individuals through modeling and observation (Bandura, 1989). Environmental factors such as parental influence and modeling, availability and accessibility of produce, sweetened drinks and fast foods, can contribute to or minimize the onset of obesity and type 2 diabetes. Consumption of fruits, vegetables and water has been shown to militate against the onset of obesity and type 2 diabetes.

Keywords: African, African-American,, SES, type 2 diabetes, environment, modeling, observation, parental influence, produce consumption, affordability


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Author Biographies

Catrina Johnson, Center for Health, Nutrition & Biomedicine, SIUC DNA Sequencing Facility

Catrina Johnson, M.S. is an Adjunct Professor of Biology and Research Scientist in Human Genetics & Plant, Soil and Ag Systems and independent researcher, CEO/Chief Scientist of the Center for Health, Nutrition & Biomedicine. She earned her B.S. in Plant & Soil Science (Biotechnology Concentration) at Southern Illinois University Carbondale and an M.S. in Plant, Soil & Ag Systems (Genomics and Bioinformatics Concentration). An experienced researcher, educator, teacher trainer and curricular integration specialist at the local, state and county levels, she is a STEM Fellow with the Illinois Board of Higher Education as a part of the Diversifying Higher Education Initiative (DFI). Her work encompasses the field of plant, animal and human genetics and nutrition. Professor Johnson’s area of expertise is understanding and explaining the complexity of the gene/environment interaction Her research interests are the environmental causes and prevention of type 2 diabetes in African American populations; African American physiology, BMI, nutrition. The results have the potential to effect what is known about the genesis of type 2 diabetes among African Americans as well as expanding what is understood about the relationship of obesity, genetics and environmental impacts. Her work has the potential to not only yield benefit to the scientific and medical communities, but to represent a model approach to scientific inquiry.


Robert Corruccini

Dr. Robert Corruccini is the distinguished 20th and 21st century American paleoanthropologist of our time. His work encompasses medical, physical and forensic anthropology. He earned his B.A. in Anthropology and Geology at the University of Colorado, Boulder in 1971, and his Ph.D. in Anthropology and Paleontology from the University of California, Berkeley in 1975. He is a Distinguished Professor of Anthropology (Emeritus) at Southern Illinois University, Smithsonian Institution Research Fellow, Human Biology Council Fellow (now the Human Biology Association) who is best known for his contributions to the theory of malocclusion and his extensive work in a slave cemetery at the Newton Plantation in Barbados.

Wanki Moon

Dr. Wanki Moon is a Professor of Agribusiness Economics at Southern Illinois University Carbondale. Dr. Moon earned his Ph.D in Agricultural Economics from the University of Florida. His research interests include: Agricultural Economics, Agricultural Policies, Global Governance of Agricultural Trade, the global food system, political economy of agricultural trade negotiations, the multifunctionality of agriculture as a paradigm shaping a new order of global agriculture, Consumer Economics and Agricultural Biotechnology Survey Methodology.

Kolapo Ajuwon

Dr. Kolapo Aujuwon is an Associate Professor of Animal Sciences and a research biologist at Purdue University. His area of expertise is: adipose biology/nutritional physiology. Dr. Ajuwon studies obesity in pigs to identify ways to curb the condition in humans. As an animal science adipose biologist his research is focused on understanding how fat tissue develops and causes obesity-related problems, such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes by studying the extracellular matrix, a sort of scaffolding, that holds cells together to understand how the proteins of that matrix affect cell growth and determine which proteins are responsible for fat cell growth. Those proteins could then be targeted as a way to control obesity.

David A. Lightfoot

Dr. David Lightfoot is a PhD in Genetics and Professor for Biotechnology and Genomics at SIUC. He is Head of the Genomic Science Facility at SIUC, a member of the National Academy of Inventors and a former Illinois Humanities Commission Road Scholar. He earned an B.Sc.(Hons) in Genetics and Development from the University of East Anglia and John Innes Institute/Sainsbury Center, Norwich England in 1981 and his Ph.D.  in Genetics from the University of Leeds, Leeds, England in 1985. Dr. Lightfoot works on novel gene discovery by genomics, particularly methods to decode and use the DNA sequences of chromosomes. He targets commercially valuable disease resistances, phyto-pharmaceuticals, crop yield boosting elements and latterly human genetics. His extensive publications include thousands of DNA sequences and patent rights to 4 inventions. He is a national and global research collaborator with research interests in the human gene environment interaction, the gut microbiome and anthropology.