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Am J Public Health. 1990 Dec;80 Suppl:20-6.

Health risk behaviors of Hispanics in the United States: findings from HHANES, 1982-84.

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  • 1Department of Preventive Medicine, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, USA.


With data from the Hispanic Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (HHANES), we examined several health risk behaviors (cigarette smoking, alcohol use, dietary practices, and recency of health screening) of Mexican American, Cuban American, and Puerto Rican adults (ages 20-74). For each sample, a greater percentage of men than women smoked cigarettes and used alcohol. Heavy smoking (20+ cigarettes per day) was most prevalent for Cuban American males, and heavy drinking (1.00+ oz ethanol per day) was most prevalent for Mexican American and Puerto Rican men. Acculturation correlated positively with alcohol use (particularly for females) and negatively with dietary balance (for Mexican American men and women). The Puerto Ricans' diet was less balanced than that of the other two groups. For each sample, more men than women had not had a routine physical or dental examination within the past five years; the recency of screening was lowest for Mexican American men. Screening (including Pap smear for the women) was lower for those who smoked cigarettes and for those with poor dietary practices, indicating that many Hispanics at special risk of disease underutilize preventive health services, increasing the likelihood of diagnosis at a later stage of illness.

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