A Multilevel Assessment of Barriers to Adoption of Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) among African Americans of Low Socioeconomic Status


Background. We examined perceptions of Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) and the food environment among African Americans (AA) with high blood pressure living in two low-income communities and objectively assessed local food outlets. Methods. Focus groups were conducted with 30 AAs; participants discussed DASH and the availability of healthy foods in their community. Sessions were transcribed and themes identified. Fifty-four stores and 114 restaurants were assessed using the Nutrition Environment Measures Survey (NEMS). Results. Common themes included poor availability, quality, and cost of healthy foods; tension between following DASH and feeding other family members; and lack of congruity between their preferred foods and DASH. Food outlets in majority AA census tracts had lower NEMS scores (stores: -11.7, p=.01, restaurants: -8.3, p=.001) compared with majority White areas. Conclusions. Interventions promoting DASH among lower income AAs should reflect the food customs, economic concerns, and food available in communities.