Do healthy behaviors decline with greater acculturation? Implications for the Latino mortality paradox

Ana Abraido-Lanza, Maria T. Chao, Karen R. Flórez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Relative to non-Latino whites, Latinos in the United States have a lower socioeconomic status (SES) profile, but a lower all-cause mortality rate. Because lower SES is associated with poorer overall health, a great deal of controversy surrounds the Latino mortality paradox. We employed a secondary data analysis of the 1991 National Health Interview Survey to test the health behavior and acculturation hypotheses, which have been proposed to explain this paradox. These hypotheses posit that: (1) Latinos have more favorable health behaviors and risk factor profiles than non-Latino whites, and (2) Health behaviors and risk factors become more unfavorable with greater acculturation. Specific health behaviors and risk factors studied were: smoking, alcohol use, leisure-time exercise activity, and body mass index (BMI). Consistent with the health behaviors hypothesis, Latinos relative to non-Latino whites were less likely to smoke and drink alcohol, controlling for sociodemographic factors. Latinos, however, were less likely to engage in any exercise activity, and were more likely to have a high BMI compared with non-Latino whites, after controlling for age and SES. Results provided partial support for the acculturation hypothesis. After adjusting for age and SES, higher acculturation was associated with three unhealthy behaviors (a greater likelihood of high alcohol intake, current smoking, a high BMI), but improvement in a fourth (greater likelihood of recent exercise). Gender-specific analyses indicated that the observed differences between Latinos and non-Latino whites, as well as the effects of acculturation on health behaviors, varied across men and women. Results suggest that the health behaviors and acculturation hypotheses may help to at least partially explain the Latino mortality paradox. The mechanisms accounting for the relationship between acculturation and risky behaviors have yet to be identified.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1243-1255
Number of pages13
JournalSocial Science and Medicine
Volume61
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 1 2005

Fingerprint

Acculturation
Health Behavior
acculturation
health behavior
Hispanic Americans
mortality
Mortality
Social Class
social status
health risk
Body Mass Index
alcohol
Alcohols
Exercise
smoking
Smoking
sociodemographic factors
leisure time
Leisure Activities
secondary analysis

Keywords

  • Alcohol use
  • Body mass index
  • Exercise
  • Latino mortality paradox
  • Smoking
  • USA

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • History and Philosophy of Science

Cite this

Do healthy behaviors decline with greater acculturation? Implications for the Latino mortality paradox. / Abraido-Lanza, Ana; Chao, Maria T.; Flórez, Karen R.

In: Social Science and Medicine, Vol. 61, No. 6, 01.09.2005, p. 1243-1255.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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