Lorraine Cordeiro studies food security and the connections between high-risk health behaviors and hunger in multiple social and cultural contexts. Her research largely focuses on adolescents and young adults. As a Family Research Scholar, she worked on a project to assess food security status and its association with dietary practices among pregnant and postpartum Cambodian women living in Lowell and Lynn, Massachusetts.
While many years have passed since the major refugee resettlement period in the 1980s, a large proportion of Cambodian individuals and families that survived the Khmer Rouge genocide still suffer from poverty and trauma. One of the consequences of this long-term socioeconomic deprivation is food insecurity, which has been linked with maternal depression and lower odds of meeting recommended dietary allowances among women of reproductive age. Cordeiro and her research team used a combination of qualitative and quantitative research techniques to test such associations and examine the consumption of traditional medicinal teas during pregnancy and the postpartum period. In addition to its more general contributions to the field of public health nutrition, this research will be particularly useful in designing culturally-appropriate health education programs for women in these and other Cambodian refugee communities.