Food taboo and dietary habits among low-income people in Kedah, Malaysia
Keywords:Food taboo, dietary habits, low-Income people, rural Area
Food beliefs and taboos about certain foods influence the use and consumption of food in the household. Today, especially in rural areas, some people believe certain foods affect health. This practice has resulted in the non-optimized intake of some food categories. As a result, it is not easy to diversify the types of food for daily diet. This study aims to investigate the beliefs and convictions of rural communities in Kedah regarding certain foods that may influence health. This study also identified the pattern of food intake among residents in rural areas of Kedah State following the belief that some foods can affect health. This study focuses on the rural areas of Kedah State, which include Kubang Pasu, Baling, Pendang, Alor Setar, and Kuala Muda districts. A total of 225 farmers in the rural areas of the selected districts were selected using stratified random sampling. The data were analyzed using SPSS 25 and food intake results. The results of the study show that low-income residents in rural areas of Kedah believe that some foods have an impact on health. A total of 37.11% believe that coffee, carbonated drinks, fresh milk, and low-fat milk cause headaches, stomach aches, heartburn, and nausea, followed by 18.66% who admit that spicy foods such as mutton, beef, and durian cause headaches, high blood pressure and skin problems. The impact of the food taboo has resulted in an overall food consumption rate below 29.9 in households of low-income residents in rural areas in Kedah State. The study's findings suggest that the Malaysian Ministry of Health should develop nutrition and health awareness programs and activities for the rural population. At the same time, there is a need for a comprehensive restructuring of the curriculum and syllabus by addressing the need for healthy eating as early as primary school so that nutrition and health awareness can be embedded in early childhood education.
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