Research Review Article| Volume 108, ISSUE 8, P1330-1344, August 2008

A Systematic Review of the Relationship between Acculturation and Diet among Latinos in the United States: Implications for Future Research


      Dietary intake is an important determinant of obesity and numerous chronic health conditions. A healthful diet is an essential component of chronic disease self-management. Researchers have indicated that the healthfulness of the Latino diet deteriorates during the acculturation process. However, given the many operationalizations of acculturation, conclusive evidence regarding this relationship is still lacking. This comprehensive and systematic literature review examines the relationship between acculturation and diet by examining national, quantitative, and qualitative studies involving Latinos living in the United States. Studies of diet included those that examined dietary intake using one of several validated measures (eg, food frequency questionnaire, 24-hour dietary recall, or dietary screener) and/or dietary behaviors (eg, away-from-home-eating and fat avoidance). Articles were identified through two independent searches yielding a final sample of 34 articles. Articles were abstracted by two independent reviewers and inter-rater reliability was assessed. Analyses examined the extent to which various measures of acculturation (ie, acculturation score, years in the United States, birthplace, generational status, and language use) were associated with macronutrient intake, micronutrient intake, and dietary behaviors. Several relationships were consistent irrespective of how acculturation was measured: no relationship with intake of dietary fat and percent energy from fat; the less vs more acculturated consumed more fruit, rice, beans, and less sugar and sugar-sweetened beverages. Additional observed relationships depended on the measure of acculturation used in the study. These findings suggest a differential influence of acculturation on diet, requiring greater specificity in our dietary interventions by acculturation status.
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      G. X. Ayala is an assistant professor, Division of Health Promotion, Graduate School of Public Health, and B. Baquero is a doctoral student, Joint Doctoral Program in Behavioral Science, Center for Behavioral and Community Health, San Diego State University, San Diego, CA.


      S. Klinger is a nutrition and culinary consultant, Hispanic Food Communications, Inc, Hinsdale, IL.