Migrant Health Research Group

Co-produced culturally appropriate multiethnic healthy eating resources

Access to free healthy eating resources is crucial for empowering underserved groups and communities to make favourable choices, and ensuring health equity.

Co-produced culturally appropriate multiethnic healthy eating resources

The Challenge

Traditional foods are important in the diets of UK Black Africans and Black Caribbeans. The wealth of free resources available to the UK public on healthy eating and nutrition include a very limited number of traditional African and Caribbean foods. This makes it difficult for dietitians, nutritionists, GPs and health and social care third sector organisations in supporting people from these population groups to improve their health and wellbeing. Thus, their health needs and experiences are often missed when providing dietary guidance and “healthy eating” advice. 

To ensure cultural competence in nutrition and dietetics practice, health equity and to empower individuals to make healthier food choices, our project aims to develop recipe cards of the healthier versions of traditional African and Caribbean beverages, dishes, and snacks. The purpose of this webpage is to share the recipe cards with the public and other stakeholders. Please contact Dr Tanefa Apekey (t.a.apekey@leedsbeckett.ac.uk) if you want further information. We welcome new collaborations to develop a healthy eating and weight loss App which has rich data of multi-ethnic foods. 

Our work responds to recent British Dietetics Association calls for action to diversify healthy eating advice currently available in the UK, and better resource this area to support practitioners and specific population groups. It also aligns with Public Health England (the health improvement function of, which has now moved to the Office for Health Improvement and Disparities) 20-25 priorities especially in their ‘Creating Healthy Communities’, ‘Reducing Inequalities’ and ‘Promote Heathier Nation’ and ‘Fair Society’ policies.

the approach

The project team is a new collaboration between researchers at two Leeds Universities, student volunteers, Feel Good Factor charity (a third sector health and social care organisation) and their service users from different ethnic communities in Leeds. To ensure the “acceptability” and “feasibility” of the modified recipes, we utilised a co-production and systematic experimental approach.

We used multiple stages of modification, testing and refinement with service users (e.g. their ideas, concerns, food preparation, feedback etc) to produce the culturally acceptable modified recipes. The description and analytical nutrient composition of the traditional foods which were modified are outlined in Apekey et al (2019) [https://doi.org/10.3390/foods8100500]. The co-production approach with service users ensured the modified recipes are culturally acceptable and relevant to them. Crucially, our approach will also ensure health equity as members of these populations are under-represented in health research and in professional practice.

The impact

The research team is working with Leeds City council in the development of the Leeds food strategy. As key stakeholders for one the 6 themes of the strategy (Tackling food poverty and diet related ill-health and increasing access to affordable healthy food), we aim to instigate multi-ethnic foods provision in schools and hospitals based on the modified recipes produced from our work. 

The outputs of the project will be shared with communities in Leeds and made available regionally and nationally. The recipe cards are anticipated to (1) lead to increased engagement of Black Africans and Black Caribbeans with dietitians, nutritionists and GPs when consulting for nutrition-related ill-health, and therefore better health outcomes, and (2) enable health and social care third sector organisations to provide person-centred care and healthy eating advice to Africans and Caribbeans in their local communities.

There is nothing there for us, if we can get this in hospital it will be alright

Feel Good Factor Service User

Through this opportunity, have been able to develop skills in using nutritional analysis software. This project is invaluable and really dispels myths that suggest healthy eating means giving up traditional and ethnic foods.

  1. Apekey, TA, Maynard M, Moore S (March 2022). Leeds City Council Multi cultural food learning workshop. 
  2. Apekey, TA, Maynard M, Moore S (2022). Leeds City Council series of workshop started from January 2022 to discuss and plan a food strategy for the city in line with The National Food Strategy.
  3. Apekey, TA, Maynard M, Moore S (2022). Voluntary Action Leeds and Leeds ACTS! (Academic Collaboration with the Third Sector) inequalities seminar series. Planned presentations of my research results on ethnic foods and co-produced health eating resources for minority ethnic groups from March onwards.

Apekey, TA, Maynard M, Moore S (April 2022). Abstract -Nutrition Society Summer Conference 2022: Food and Nutrition: pathways to a sustainable future.

We wish to thank LeedsActs for funding this project, BSc students for volunteering their time to work with us and finally our partner Feel Good Factor and their services users for their valuable input.


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