Food for Thought

Food for Thought

Globalization has lead to immeasurable changes in the once tranquil medicinal haven of Ubud. The main objective of this study is to investigate the processes contributing the shifts in population nutrition presented through the exploration of perceptions of Indonesians working in Ubud. The drastic changes associated with urbanization, westernization, trade economics and health tourism are affecting the behaviour to adapt unhealthy lifestyles. To uncover the thoughts surrounding nutrition, a conceptualized model that incorporates the health beliefs of individuals within larger determinants of globalization and population health is best suited to frame this qualitative study.

The study used semi-structured interviews and one focus group were conducted with a total of 26 participants working in Ubud, male and female,  with ages ranging from 19-57 The study results is three general themes became evident from the participants’ responses. Firstly, a high knowledge about health was apparent as information regarding what participants consider healthy and unhealthy foods was consistent with global nutritional guidelines.

Interestingly, the overwhelming perception of good nutrition does not appear to translate into healthy behaviours. Secondly an overall emphasis relating to Balinese nutritional traditions is perceived to be deep rooted in the culture of Ubud and strongly influences the health behaviour of the population. Lastly, themes concerning globalization processes were revealed; an increase in price, food availability, health awareness, and a high awareness of chemical use were named contributors to poor nutrition. Additionally, several recurring barriers were apparent and include: affordability of organic foods, methods of cooking, the good taste of unhealthy foods.

Based on the results, it can be concluded that the high knowledge level of participants combined with the natural vegetation and abundance of food in Ubud demonstrate that the nutritional barriers lie in the perceptions shaping the beahvious of the population. Since the results show significant knowledge about nutritional awareness and low levels of health engagement by the population a strategy that is aimed at simple and convenient nutrition techniques is best. A revamp of the current governmental nutrition guide can focus on proper use of chemicals incorporating a campaign in food hygiene. Perhaps promotional campaigns to educate Balinese about identification of healthier food options and restrictions on street and fast food restaurants to employ clean cooking techniques are recommended from the results. Further research into the driving agents of behaviour in Ubud can help to pinpoint the exact barriers to nutrition for Indonesians.

Alyssa McGuire, MSc. Candidate 2013, Masstricht University, Netherlands.

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