Acculturation is a dynamic and complex process that adopts elements of the dominant culture, which include food, attitudes, beliefs, languages, art, music, rituals, and faith/religion. This melting pot vs. salad bowl framework may impact health. The melting pot advocates for assimilation into 1 dominant culture whereas the salad bowl encourages distinctions that contribute to unique aspects of every group. The salad bowl approach to health suggests that health promotion and disease prevention are broad goals that coincide with identity and heritage.
To determine whether there is a relationship between level of acculturation and diet quality among first- and second-generation Hispanic adolescents in the United States.
Study Design, Setting, Participants
We utilized the 2015-2016 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) sample, consisting of 447 Hispanic adolescents ages 12 to 19 (46.5% male, 53.5% female) in the US. Diet quality from the Healthy Eating Index (HEI) was measured using 2-day food records.
Data was cleaned and analyzed using SAS version 4.0. Level of acculturation was scored via NHANES content of generational items for parental citizenship status and language items for frequency of native language spoken at home. HEI was scored as poor (0 to 49), moderate (50 to 79), and good (80 to 100). Multiple logistic regression measured acculturation vs. diet quality, and controlled for gender, age, and income. The Tukey test confirmed findings.
Gender and income had no influence on HEI whereas older age groups were associated with higher HEI scores (P < .008). Level of acculturation was associated with HEI (P < .05). Among adolescents with poor diet quality, 38% with high acculturation had poor diet quality compared to 20.4% with medium acculturation and 6.8% with low acculturation (P < .009).
Findings suggest that Americanized Hispanic adolescents consume more standard American foods and fewer meals prepared at home. Future investigations should explore the impact of acculturation on diet quality among other ethnicities and evaluate culturally appropriate interventions in the US.