Journal of Refugee & Global Health


Refugees from the Democratic Republic of the Congo are one of the largest refugee groups globally and in the US, however, there is limited research with this group. Therefore, objectives of this study were to examine: 1) obesity and hypertension rates, 2) diet and lifestyle behavior changes, and 3) diet, lifestyle and social factors of obesity and hypertension risk of Congolese refugees in the US. This cross-sectional data collection utilized a survey developed specifically for this project. Clinical and anthropometric measures including height, weight and blood pressure were also obtained. Data analysis included descriptive and regression analysis. Participants (n=48, >18 years, 55% female) reported consumption of a traditional diet with an emphasis on starchy foods, dark leafy greens, legumes, fish and fruit. Adverse dietary changes and reductions in physical activity were reported. Of the sample 63% were overweight or obese and 91% exhibited elevated blood pressure. Sociodemographic factors including age, sex, and changes to lifestyle (diet, physical activity) were not significantly associated with BMI or diastolic or systolic blood pressure. Findings in this study reveal both lifestyle and clinical risk factors associated with chronic disease as well as potential health care and health literacy barriers. Results from this study may be utilized by practitioners and/or researchers to tailor culturally appropriate future health promotion and/or care to address and reduce health disparities commonly experienced by African refugees.


Internal grant from the Sponsored Programs and Research (SPAR) Office, Winthrop University.



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