Date of Award

January 2013

Document Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Public Health (MPH)

Department

School of Public Health

First Advisor

Mayur Desai

Second Advisor

Marney White

Abstract

Objective

This study aimed to explore the associations between acculturation and nutritional behaviors among Latino adults living in Los Angeles County.

Methods

We studied 2562 Latinos aged 18 years and older who responded to the 2007 Los Angeles County Health Survey. Using a modified acculturation scale incorporating language(s) spoken at home, nativity/birthplace, and years lived in the United States, the study population was categorized into low, medium, or high acculturation levels. Two key nutritional behaviors were assessed: whether the individual did not consume five or more servings of fruits/vegetables in the past day and whether the individual ate fast food more than once in the past month. A summary score of nutritional behavior ranging from 0 (healthy) to 2 (poor) behaviors was created. Multivariable ordered logistic regression was used to examine the associations between acculturation and nutritional behaviors, controlling for sociodemographic characteristics. All analyses employed population weights to account for the complex sample survey design.

Results

Overall, 88.0% reported not consuming five or more servings of fruits/vegetables, 73.0% reported eating fast food more frequently than once a month, and 64.9% reported both poor behaviors. In multivariable analyses, poorer nutritional behaviors were associated with higher levels of acculturation, including speaking English only vs. Spanish only at home (adjusted odds ratio [AOR]=1.83; 95% confidence interval [CI]=1.30-2.58) and, although not significantly so, being US born vs. foreign born and in the US <10 years (AOR=1.30; 95% CI=0.88-1.93). Adjusted for all other variables in the model, speaking only English was independently associated with exhibiting poor nutritional behavior. With respect to the composite measure of acculturation, individuals in the high acculturation group were significantly more likely to engage in poorer nutritional behaviors than were those in the low acculturation group (AOR=1.42; 95% CI=1.01-2.02).

Conclusion

Latinos on the high end of acculturation exhibited less healthy nutritional behaviors compared with the low acculturation group. Greater efforts are needed to understand and counteract potentially adverse changes in diet that accompany greater acculturation.

Comments

This is an Open Access Thesis.

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