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Dietary practices, alcohol consumption, and smoking behavior: ethnic, sex, and acculturation differences.

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  • 1Department of Medicine, University of California, San Francisco, USA.


Current knowledge is scarce on Latino dietary practices. This study compared the dietary practices, alcohol consumption, and smoking behavior of Latinos and non-Latino whites in two randomly selected samples. Telephone surveys of adults 35-74 years of age from the Kaiser Permanente Medical Care Program (Latinos = 844; non-Latino whites = 510) and from census tract-based areas (Latinos = 806; non-Latino whites = 436) were conducted in the San Francisco Bay Area. Latino ethnicity was a significant predictor of dietary and alcohol consumption practices in multivariate logistic regression models after adjustment for sex, education, age, employment, health insurance, martial status, county of residence, and self-perceived health status. Compared with non-Latino whites, Latinos were significantly less likely to report eating vegetables and more likely to eat rice, beans, and fried foods and to drink whole milk. Less acculturated Latinos were more likely to eat fruits, rice, beans, meat, and fried foods and to drink whole milk than more acculturated Latinos. Latino men were significantly more likely to be binge drinkers, and Latina women were significantly more likely to abstain from drinking alcohol during the month prior to the interview. As Latina women acculturate to the U.S. mainstream, they report more cigarette smoking and alcohol consumption. Although Latinos reported higher levels of selected high-fiber foods, the low consumption of vegetables, widespread use of saturated fat, and the heavy drinking and smoking among Latino men, which are associated with the level of acculturation, may increase the risk for cancer. Educational messages targeting less acculturated Latinos should focus on maintaining their current healthy dietary practices of eating fruits, rice, and beans and decreasing their fat consumption. For more acculturated Latinos, emphasis should be placed on resuming the traditional diet.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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