Association Between Ethnicity and Dietary Behaviors in Chinese Han and Hui Nationalities

Abdelhadi Halawa


This cross-sectional study examined the association between sociodemographic characteristics, ethnocultural identity, dietary habits, and related health behaviors of the Chinese Han and Hui populations. Participants in the study were 662 male and female adults randomly selected from four Chinese cities in three provinces. A modified 23-question self-administered questionnaire was employed to collect data from the respondents pertaining to their ethnic group affirmation, demographic characteristics, dietary habits, food consumption patterns, and related health practices. A t-test was conducted to determine interactions between the parametric variables and Chi-square analyses were conducted to determine interactions between the nonparametric variables. Hans were more likely to have a higher level of education than Huis, Hans were more likely to drink water frequently vs. all other non-water drinks than Huis, both Hans and Huis were more likely to consume their last meal of the day between 17:00-24:00 PM, Huis were more likely to shop for fruits frequently, eat breakfast regularly, cook healthy food (all the time), and bake food more and fry it less frequently, married couples were more likely consume breakfast and shop for fruits more regularly than their single counterparts who were more likely to be have a higher level of education. The level of education does not appear to translate into adopting a healthier dietary behavior such consuming daily breakfast on a regular basis by the more educated single respondents. There is a need to develop both short-term and long-term strategies aimed at further improving the dietary habits and related health practices of both ethnic groups. However, there is a need for the Hans to focus more on improving 6 out of the 8 dietary factors such as consuming regular daily breakfast, and for the Huis to focus more on improving the level of education and 3 out of the 8 dietary factors.


Chinese food culture, Demographic characteristics, Dietary behaviors, dietary-related health practices, Food consumption patterns, Han and Hui Ethnic Nationalities

Full Text:



Ahmet, M. (2016). Ethnicity, identity and group vitality: A study of Burushos of Srinagar. Journal of Ethnic and Cultural Studies, 3(1), 1-10.

Al-Bashtawy, M. (2015). Exploring the reasons why school students eat or skip breakfast. Nurs Child Young People, 27(6), 16-22. doi:10.7748/ncyp.27.6.16.e622.

Benton, D., Maconie, A., & Williams, C. (2007). The influence of the glycemic load of breakfast on the behavior of children in school. Physiol Behav, 92(4), 717-24.

Berkley, C. S., Rockett, H. R., Gillman, M. W., Field, A. E., & Colditz, G. A. (2003). A longitudinal study of skipping breakfast and weight change in adolescents. International Journal of Obesity, 27, 1258–1266.

Chang, K. C. (1977). Food in Chinese culture:Aanthropological and historical perspectives. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.

Counihan, C., & Van Esterik, P. (2012). Food and culture: A reader third edition. (3rd ed.). Oxford, UK: Routledge.

Damgaci, F. K. (2016). Vatandaşlık, Çeşitlilik ve Çoğulculuğun Tarihsel Süreç İçerisinde Türk Eğitim Sistemindeki Yeri. 21. Yüzyılda Eğitim ve Toplum, 5(13), 223-238.

Dehn, M. (2017). Cross-cultural study of food and CPG products in a new market: Case study in the United States. Thailand. (Honors Theses) (pp. 2821-2822). Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, MI.

Dillon, M. (1999). China's Muslim Hui community: migration, settlement, and sects. London, UK: Curzon Press

Du, H., & Keys, T. (2015). Diet and health: The China Kadoorie Biobank (CKB) Study of Chronic Disease. Oxford, UK: University of Oxford Publication.

Eisenberg, M. E., Olson, R., Neumark-Sztainer, D., Story, M., & Bearinger, L. H. (2004). Correlations between family meals and psychosocial well-being among adolescents. Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, 158, pp. 792-796.

Faltis, C. (2014). Toward a race radical vision of bilingual education for Kurdish users in Turkey: A Commentary. Journal of Ethnic and Cultural Studies, 1(1), 1-5.

Feagin, J. R., & Feagin, C. B. (2007). Racial and ethnic relations (8th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.

Fu, J., Wang, Z., & Wang, B. (2005). Transitions of food groups and nutrients in the northeast of China: A 3-year-interval's follow-up study. The Internet Journal of Nutrition and Wellness, 2 (02), pp. 1-8.

Gao, H., Stiller, C. K., Scherbaum, V., Biesalski, H. K., Wang, Q., Hormann, E., &. Bellows, A. C. (2013). Dietary intake and food habits of pregnant women residing in urban and rural areas of Deyang City, Sichuan Province, China. Nutrients, 5, 2933-2954. doi:10.3390/nu5082933.

Gillette, M. B. (2000). Between Mecca and Beijing: Modernization and consumption among urban Chinese Muslims. Redwood City, CA: Stanford University Press.

Gladney, D. C. (1998). Ethnic identity in China: The making of a Muslim minority nationality. Fort Worth, TX: Harcourt Brace College.

Guan, M. (2015). Ethnic difference of disease prevalence in rural China: Examples and Explanations. Health, 7, 449-455. Retrieved from

Henderson, J. (2002). Wu Xing (Wu-hsing): Five phases. In Cua, A.S. Editor (Ed). Encyclopedia of Chinese Philosophy (pp. 686-688). New York: Routledge.

Hu, F. B., Stampfer, M. J., Manson, J. E., Rimm, E. B., Colditz, G. A., Rosner, B. A., & Speizer, F. E. (1998). Frequent nut consumption and risk of coronary heart disease in women: prospective cohort study. BMJ, 2(3), 317:1341-5.

Jacobs, L. R. (1988). Fiber and colon cancer. Gastroenterology Clinics of North America, 17, pp. 747-760.

Ji, B.T., Chow, W. H., Gridley, G., McLaughlin, J. K., Dai, Q., Wacholder, S., Hatch, M. C., Gao, Y. T., & Fraumeni, J. F. (1995). Dietary factors and the risk of pancreatic cancer: A case-control study in Shanghai, China. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev, 4(8), 885-93.

Junru, L. (2011). Chinese food. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

Kittler, P. G., Sucher, K., & Nelms, N. M. (2012). Food and culture (6th ed.). Boston, MA: Wadsworth.

Kocktürk-Runefors, T. (1990). Changes in food habits and nutritional status of immigrants from Turkey in Sweden. Bibl Nutr Dieta, 45, 157-164.

Letcher, K. (2016). One-child policy: Chinese Government program. Encyclopedia Britannica,

Lin, K. (2000). Chinese food cultural profile. EthnoMed. Seattle, WA: University of Washington Press,

Lipman, J. N. (1998). Familiar Strangers: A History of Muslims in Northwest China. Seattle, WA: University of Washington Press.

Ma, G. (2015). Food, eating behavior, and culture in Chinese society. Journal of Ethnic Foods, 2(4), 195-199. doi:

Mendez, M. A., & Popkin B. M. (2005). Globalization, urbanization and nutritional change in the developing world. Electronic of J Agric Dev Econ, 1, 220-241. Retrieved from

National Cancer Institute: Division of Cancer Control and Population Sciences (2007). Diet history questionnaire paper-based forms,

Newman, J. M. (2004). Islamic cuisine in China: Chinese ethnic minorities and their foods. Institute for the Advancement of the Science and Art of Chinese Cuisine, 11(2), 7-35.

Nicklaus, T. A., Reger, C., Myers, L., & O'Neil, C. (2002). Breakfast consumption with and without vitamin-mineral supplement use favorably impacts daily nutrient intake of ninth-grade students. J Adolesc Health, 27, 314-321.

Olson, J. S. (1998). An Ethnohistorical Dictionary of China. Westport, CT: Greenwood.

Parker, J. (2016, October 6). The Hui: China’s other Muslims. The Economist,

Pew Research Center (2009). Mapping the global Muslim population,

Phillips, G. W. (2005). Does eating breakfast affect the performance of college students on biology exams? Bioscene: Journal of College Biology Teaching, 30(4), 15-19.

Popkin, B. M. (2006). Global nutrition dynamics: the world is shifting rapidly toward a diet linked with noncommunicable diseases. Am J Clin Nutr, 84(2), 289-298.

Popkin, B. M. (2014). Synthesis and implications: China’s nutrition transition in the context of changes across other low and middle-income countries. Obesity Reviews: An Official Journal of the International Association for the Study of Obesity, 15(1), 1110-1111.

Popkin, B. M., Keyou, G., Zhai, F., Guo, X., Ma, H., & Zohoori, N. (1993). The nutrition transition in China: a cross-sectional analysis. Eur J Clin Nutr, 47(5), 333-46.

Rampersaud, G. C., Pereira, M. A., Girard, B. L., Adams, J., & Metzl, J. D. (2005). Breakfast habits, nutritional status, body weight, and academic performance in children and adolescents. Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 105(5), 743-760. doi:org/10.1016/j.jada.2005.02.007.

Roberts, J. A. G. (1999). A concise history of China. New Haven, CT: Harvard University Press.

Shah, M. (2016). Ethnicity based social exclusion of Nomads in Khyber District Malakand, Pakhtunkhwa- Pakistan. Journal of Ethnic and Cultural Studies, 3(1), 11-19.

Steinhofer, K. (2005). Young singles: A look at the grocery shopping preferences of a unique and underestimated market, survey & analysis. (Honors Theses) (pp. 4-5). Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, MI.

Steinmetz, K. A. & Potter, J. D. (1996). Vegetables, fruit, and cancer prevention: A review. Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 96(10), 1027-1039. doi:org/10.1016/S0002-8223(96)00273-8.

Tarman, B., & Gürel, D. (2017). Awareness of social studies teacher candidates on refugees in Turkey. The Journal of Social Studies Research. Retrieved from

Thompson, F. E., Kipnis, V., Krebs-Smith, S. M., Kahle, L. L., Midthune, D., Potischman, N., & Schatzkin, A. (2000). Evaluation of 2 brief instruments and a food-frequency questionnaire to estimate daily number of servings of fruit and vegetables. Am J Clin Nutr, 71(6), 1503-1510.

Valera, S. (2008). Food in Chinese culture. Asia Society Publication. Retrieved from,5

Wang, G. (2015). Han Chinese proportion in China's population drops: 2011 census data (2012-4-28). Xinhua News (English). Retrieved from 04/28/c_13849933.htm

Wang, T. (2015). Marginality of rural migrant students in eleven Chinese high schools. Journal of Ethnic and Cultural Studies, 2(2), 21-32.

Wang, X., Ouyang, Y., Liu, J., Zhu, M., Zhao, G., Bao, W., & Hu, F.B. (2014). Fruit and vegetable consumption and mortality from all causes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer: Systematic review and dose-response meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies. BMJ, 349. /10.1136/bmj.g4490.

World Health Organization (2011). Global status report on noncommunicable diseases. Geneva: WHO,

Xu, A & Xia, Y. (2014). The Changes in mainland Chinese families during the social transition: A critical analysis. Faculty Publications. Department of Child, Youth, and Family Studies, Lincoln, NE, University of Nebraska Press, (pp. 31-49).

Yang, R.J., Wang, E.K., Hsieh, Y.S., & Chen, M. Y. (2006). Irregular breakfast eating and health status among adolescents in Taiwan. BMC Public Health, 6(1), 295. doi:10.1186/1471-2458-6-295.

Zhang, M., Yang, Z. Y., Binns, C. W., & Lee, A. H. (2002). Diet and ovarian cancer risk: A case-control study in China, Br J Cancer, 86(5), 712-717.


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Journal of Ethnic and Cultural Studies  E-ISSN: 2149-1291

Copyright © JECS Publishing Inc.

To make sure that you can receive messages from us, please add the '' domain to your e-mail 'safe list'. If you do not receive e-mail in your 'inbox', check your 'bulk mail' or 'junk mail' folders.


doaj_logo_new_120   EBSCO_logo_new_120