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J Nutr. 2007 Apr;137(4):860-70.

The role of acculturation in nutrition, lifestyle, and incidence of type 2 diabetes among Latinos.

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Department of Nutritional Sciences, Center for Eliminating Health Disparities among Latinos, University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT 06269-4017, USA.


Latinos have become the largest ethnic minority group in the U.S. and will become 25% of the population by 2050. The purpose of this critical review is to examine the influence of acculturation on type 2 diabetes and corresponding risk factors, including 1) dietary intake, 2) physical activity patterns, 3) smoking and alcohol consumption, and 4) obesity. Among Latinos, acculturation has been associated with obesity risk, suboptimal dietary choices including lack of breast-feeding, low intake of fruits and vegetables, a higher consumption of fats and artificial drinks containing high levels of refined sugar, smoking, and alcohol consumption. In contrast, acculturation has been positively associated with physical activity and a lower likelihood of type 2 diabetes among Latinos. However, findings have been inconsistent across acculturation indicators and appear to be strongly modified by Latino subethnicity and gender. It is important to improve existing acculturation measures available. Mexican Americans have been the target group in the majority of studies. Research in this group must continue but it is important to conduct additional research with other Latino subgroups that have been left out of most of the acculturation, lifestyles, and health outcomes research. Differences between acculturation and health-related outcomes may be confounded by socio-economic status, age, and movement from urban to rural areas. Longitudinal multivariate acculturation research is essential to disentangle these relations and to develop sound behavioral change theories that adequately predict behavioral change among Latinos.

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