Healthy eating patterns associated with acculturation, sex and BMI among Mexican Americans

Belinda Reininger, Minjae Lee, Rose Jennings, Alexandra Evans, Michelle Vidoni

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Objective Examine relationships of healthy and unhealthy dietary patterns with BMI, sex, age and acculturation among Mexican Americans. Design Cross-sectional. Participants completed culturally tailored Healthy and Unhealthy Eating Indices. Multivariable mixed-effect Poisson regression models compared food pattern index scores and dietary intake of specific foods by BMI, sex, age and acculturation defined by language preference and generational status. Setting Participants recruited from the Cameron County Hispanic Cohort study, Texas-Mexico border region, between 2008 and 2011. Subjects Mexican-American males and females aged 18-97 years (n 1250). Results Participants were primarily female (55·3 %), overweight or obese (85·7 %), preferred Spanish language (68·0 %) and first-generation status (60·3 %). Among first-generation participants, bilingual participants were less likely to have a healthy eating pattern than preferred Spanish-speaking participants (rate ratio (RR)=0·79, P=0·0218). This association was also found in males (RR=0·81, P=0·0098). Preferred English-speaking females were less likely to consume healthy foods than preferred Spanish-speaking females (RR=0·84, P=0·0293). Among second-generation participants, preferred English-speaking participants were more likely to report a higher unhealthy eating pattern than preferred Spanish-speaking participants (RR=1·23, P=0·0114). Higher unhealthy eating patterns were also found in females who preferred English v. females who preferred Spanish (RR=1·23, P=0·0107) or were bilingual (RR=1·26, P=0·0159). Younger, male participants were more likely to have a higher unhealthy eating pattern. BMI and diabetes status were not significantly associated with healthy or unhealthy eating patterns. Conclusions Acculturation, age, sex and education are associated with healthy and unhealthy dietary patterns. Nutrition interventions for Mexican Americans should tailor approaches by these characteristics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1267-1278
Number of pages12
JournalPublic Health Nutrition
Issue number7
StatePublished - May 1 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Acculturation
  • Community nutrition
  • Healthy eating patterns
  • Mexican Americans
  • US-Mexico border

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Nutrition and Dietetics
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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