Jerusha Nelson Peterman’s current research focuses primarily on dietary practices in vulnerable immigrant populations, including refugees. Peterman is interested in documenting how immigrant experiences combine with the U.S. food environment to affect dietary practices, risk of food insecurity and diet-related health outcomes in immigrant families. She also works to develop nutrition education programs suited to the experiences and practices of immigrants and refugees.
Her past research has focused on Cambodian refugees, and current work examines language and coping strategies that low-income, multicultural families use when dealing with food insecurity. During her year as a Family Research Scholar, Dr. Peterman developed a grant proposal for the project entitled “Predictors and Dietary and Health Consequences of Food Insecurity in Immigrant Families in the United States.” Dr. Peterman assessed how immigrants’ personal and family characteristics, dietary practices, and biochemical and health outcomes are related to food insecurity. Dr. Peterman’s program of study contributed to the field of research on food insecurity and immigrant health by using a national data set to provide an assessment of how food insecurity is related to health outcomes in an immigrant context. The study also examined how generational differences between immigrant adults and children affected child and family dietary choices.