Obesity has been established as a major risk factor for cardiovascular conditions distinctly affecting the Latino population in the United States. Recent data not only shows that Latinos have higher rates of obesity relative to non-Latino Whites, but that the socio-cultural determinants of obesity and obesity-related conditions (e.g., elevated blood pressure, diabetes) are uniquely different among Latinos. Indeed, the prevalence of obesity in this population has been increasingly associated with acculturation, or the process by which immigrants espouse the norms and beliefs of the majority culture. However, research findings are often fraught with methodological problems, atheoretical approaches, and controversies. Therefore, the long term objective of this project is to contribute to the cardiovascular risk-factor literature by elucidating the relationship between obesity and acculturation among Latinos. To that end, the project will utilize the main tenets of segmented assimilation theory by testing whether different modes of incorporation into American society predict obesity patterns among Latino adults. Using 2002-2003 data from the National Latino and Asian American Survey, the project will first conduct a series of explorative cluster analyzes to examine whether modes of incorporation, defined in terms of income, education, and ethnic affiliation, fit distinct patterns predicted by segmented assimilation theory (e.g., underclass, classic assimilation, or segmented assimilation mode). Then, the project will aim to explore whether obesity varies with segmented assimilation's patterns of incorporation (i.e. underclass, classic, segmented assimilation), and/or any other patterns of assimilation. Finally, because segmented assimilation theory recognizes the importance of the lived environment in the assimilation experience of most immigrant groups, the project will test the extent to which features in the neighborhood context (e.g., level of social cohesion, proportion of Latinos), mediate the relationship between mode of incorporation and obesity.

Public Health Relevance

Taken together, exploring obesity in relation to the process of acculturation is highly relevant to the future public health planning of the United States because cardiovascular disease is still the leading cause of death in the nation. Moreover, Latinos are the largest ethnic minority group in the country and they suffer from a disproportionate burden of obesity and other CVD risk factors (e.g., diabetes). Also, the population of Latinos in the U.S. is largely composed of immigrants (65.2%), which illustrate in part, the importance of considering acculturation in research on the health of Latinos.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI)
Predoctoral Individual National Research Service Award (F31)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZRG1-RPHB-K (29))
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Arteaga, Sonia M
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Columbia University (N.Y.)
Public Health & Prev Medicine
Schools of Public Health
New York
United States
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