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J Am Diet Assoc. 2010 May;110(5 Suppl):S62-7. doi: 10.1016/j.jada.2010.03.009.

Limited English proficiency is a barrier to receipt of advice about physical activity and diet among Hispanics with chronic diseases in the United States.

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Braun School of Public Health and Community Medicine, Hebrew University-Hadassah, Jerusalem, Israel.


The prevalence of obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease is reaching epidemic proportions among Hispanics in the United States. Health care providers play an important role in motivating patients to make healthful lifestyle changes to reduce the burden of such conditions. Data from the US 2000 National Health Interview Survey was analyzed to determine differences in report of physician-provided physical activity and/or dietary advice by level of English proficiency among obese Hispanics or those who reported having diabetes or cardiovascular disease and who contacted a physician during the past year (n=1,186). Only one third of the sample reported receiving advice to increase their physical activity or to improve their dietary habits; one fifth reported receipt of advice about both. English-proficient Hispanics were about 50% more likely to report receiving advice on physical activity (adjusted odd ratio [AOR]=1.5; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.1 to 2.1), diet (AOR=1.5; 95% CI: 1.1 to 2.2) or both (AOR=1.6; 95% CI: 1.1 to 2.3), as compared with limited English-proficient Hispanics, after controlling for health insurance coverage and number of visits to a physician during the last year. Sex, age, region of residence, level of education, annual family income, and smoking status were not significantly associated with receiving physical activity and/or dietary advice. In order to address racial health disparities, and lower the burden of chronic illness, culturally sensitive strategies must be implemented to enhance delivery of effective health-promotion messages by physicians, particularly among at-risk communities.


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