Elizabeth Palmer DeVine Koselka

Grant Type

Dissertation Fieldwork Grant

Institutional Affiliation

Northwestern U.

Grant number

Gr. 10013

Approve Date

August 26, 2020

Project Title

Koselka, Elizabeth (Northwestern U.) "Social hierarchies of diet and their effects on adolescent health in Spain"

ELIZABETH KOSELKA, then a graduate student at Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois, was awarded a grant in August 2020 to aid research on “Social hierarchies of diet and their effects on adolescent health in Spain,” supervised by Dr. William R. Leonard. As global evidence accrues on the negative health effects of “Americanized” ways of eating, emerging results suggest that diet change processes are ongoing and unpredictable. Studies of diet change with people who immigrated to the Global North can provide important perspective by using international comparisons to elucidate the social and political-economic forces that underlie ways of eating in high-resource, high-inequality settings. This dissertation introduced the Migration, Stress, Food and Health Study to describe changes to eating and health among two generations of people emigrated from Latin America and resettled in Alicante, Spain. Eighty-five participants completed an online survey and 32 (16 parent-child pairs) also completed open ended interviews about their livelihood, eating, and health since moving to Alicante. Results indicate socio-economic precarity among the sample, but show that more social support and resources correlated with better health and eating, i.e., less diet change, better diet quality, and less-severe food insecurity. Measures of eating listed above did not correlate with health status, suggesting that a focus on diet cannot adequately explain longobserved health disparities. Rather, the strongest leverage points for improving participants’ health and advancing health equity in high-resourced settlings like Alicante are to improve social and economic conditions.