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The ambiguity of ethnicity as risk factor of vitamin D deficiency - A case study of Danish vitamin D policy documents

By Anna Mygind, Janine Morgall Traulsen, Lotte Stig Nørgaard and Paul Bissell

Abstract

Objectives To explore how ethnic minorities at risk of vitamin D deficiency are constructed in Danish policy documents (current as of April 2009), regarding vitamin D supplementation.Methods Ten policy documents were analysed through content analysis, focusing on definitions and explanations of ethnic minorities being at risk of vitamin D deficiency. This formed the basis for an analysis of constructions of ethnic minorities at risk which was undertaken using the Social Construction of Technology (SCOT) theory as an organising framework.Results The analysis showed a high degree of interpretative flexibility regarding how ethnic minorities are constructed as a risk group for vitamin D deficiency. The ten documents analysed revealed eight different constructions of the ethnic minorities groups at risk. A low degree of interpretative flexibility was found regarding the importance of skin colour and skin covering. Major disagreements were found regarding the importance attributed to the Islamic religion, other traditions, immigration, gender and age, and use of an evolutionary explanation for the increased risk.Conclusions Ethnic minorities at risk of vitamin D deficiency are constructed very differently in Danish policies current as of April 2009. A more precise definition of ethnic minorities in policies and research may be helpful in seeking to identify which ethnic minorities are and are not at risk of vitamin D deficiency.Denmark Ethnic groups Health policy Migrants Policy making Vitamin D

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