Dietary Acculturation among Hispanic/Latino Older Adults

February 28, 2012

Gabriela Arandia

Researchers at the Texas A&M Health Science Center (TAMHSC) School of Rural Public Health have examined the measurement of dietary acculturation among Mexican, Puerto Rican and Dominican older adults to present current knowledge and research disparities on acculturation, dietary intake and health outcomes.

Published this month in the Journal of Nutrition in Gerontology and Geriatrics, “Diet and Acculturation among Hispanic/Latino Older Adults in the United States: A Review of the Literature and Recommendations” examined 15 peer-reviewed studies.

Lead author Gabriela Arandia, M.S.P.H. student at the TAMHSC-School of Rural Public Health, found contradictory associations between dietary acculturation and dietary intake, along with nutritional and general health outcomes among the fastest-growing minority group in the United States. Conclusive evidence has yet to be attained due to use of cross-sectional study designs and numerous acculturation measures, as well as unique cultural and dietary patterns across diverse Hispanic/Latino populations.

“Older adults tend to acculturate more slowly than younger generations and are more likely to hold onto their language and culture of origin,” Arandia said. “Hispanic/Latino older adults represent various Hispanic/Latin-American cultures and origins, and thus a single acculturation measure may not be appropriate for use among all Hispanic/Latino groups.”

As a graduate research assistant in the Program for Research in Nutrition and Health Disparities, Arandia is currently involved in two major projects in Texas border colonias: one using in-home surveys administered by promotora-researchers to examine the influence of generation status in determining the presence of specific foods and beverages in households and a second examining life-course experiences of Mexican-origin seniors who participated in focus group discussions.

Additional authors from the TAMHSC-School of Rural Public Health include Courtney Nalty (M.S.P.H. student in epidemiology); Joseph R. Sharkey, Ph.D., M.P.H., RD; and Wesley R. Dean, Ph.D.

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