The aims of the study were to provide information that will contribute to conceptualising what is called ‘dietary Westernisation’, and to provide an example of measuring it on an individual level.
Food consumption frequency and demographic data on adults in Mauritius were examined in 1988, 1992 and 1998. In 1992, a 24-hour recall was also included. The cross-sectional samples consisted of 1115 (age 25–74 years) Mauritians in 1987/88, 1917 (age 30–74 years) in 1992 and 2239 (age 20–74 years) in 1998. Principal components analysis was carried out on daily consumption frequencies of 10 indicator foods (white rice, white bakery bread, pulses, processed meat, poultry, fresh/frozen fish, butter, margarine, whole milk and skimmed/low-fat milk). Correlations between dietary patterns and selected food consumption frequencies were examined in each survey year.
Four dietary patterns were identified as being related to dietary Westernisation. The Traditional dietary pattern was characterised by higher consumption frequencies of Indian breads, salted/smoked fish and sugar-sweetened tea. The Western dietary pattern was characterised by higher consumption frequencies of cakes/pastries, meat and many Western fast foods like burgers, but, surprisingly, also by brown bread, breakfast cereals and salad. The Bread/butter dietary pattern predominantly described more frequent consumption of bread compared with rice. The Margarine/milk dietary pattern was inconsistently related with staple foods. Younger, educated and wealthier Mauritians appeared to adopt Western dietary patterns earlier.
This study suggests that relatively few indicator foods are needed for measuring dietary Westernisation. Dietary Westernisation in a non-Western country may also include shifts towards voluntary consumption of healthier foods.