Higher fat intake and lower fruit and vegetables intakes are associated with greater acculturation among Mexicans living in Washington State

Marian L Neuhouser, Beti Thompson, Gloria D Coronado, Cam C Solomon
Journal of the American Dietetic Association 2004, 104 (1): 51-7

OBJECTIVE: To examine associations of diet with acculturation among Hispanic immigrants from Mexico to Washington state and to compare dietary patterns of Hispanic with non-Hispanic white residents.

DESIGN: Data are part of the baseline assessment for a community-randomized cancer prevention trial. The Fat-Related Diet Habits questionnaire and the National 5-A-Day for Better Health program dietary assessment instruments were used to collect data on fat and fruit and vegetable intake, respectively. Data were also collected on demographic characteristics and acculturation status.

SUBJECTS/SETTING: A total of 1,689 adult Hispanic and non-Hispanic white residents of 20 communities in the Yakima Valley, WA, completed in-person interviews.

STATISTICAL ANALYSES PERFORMED: Mixed model regression analyses tested associations of acculturation with diet. These models compared the fat and the fruit and vegetable intake of Hispanics vs non-Hispanic white residents. Additional analyses compared the diets of highly acculturated Hispanics with low-acculturated Hispanics. All models included age, sex, income, and education and were also adjusted for the random effect of community.

RESULTS: Dietary patterns varied by ethnicity and acculturation status. On average, compared with non-Hispanic white residents, Hispanics consumed one more serving of fruits and vegetables per day (P<.001). Dietary habits changed as Hispanics acculturated to the United States. Highly acculturated Hispanics ate fewer servings of fruits and vegetables per day compared with those not highly acculturated (P<.05). Highly acculturated Hispanics had slightly higher, but not statistically significant, scores on the Fat-Related Diet Habits questionnaire, which corresponds to a higher fat intake, compared with low-acculturated Hispanics. The early dietary changes made on acculturation included adding fat at the table to breads and potatoes.

APPLICATIONS/CONCLUSIONS: Nutrition professionals should encourage their Hispanic clients to maintain their traditional dietary practices, such as a high intake of fruits and vegetables and eating bread and potatoes without added fat.

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