Assessing the Association Between Language-specific Acculturation Characteristics and BMI in Hispanic-American Children

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Submission ID :
ESPR412
Submission Type
Submission Topic
Abstract: :

Background: Hispanic individuals comprise over 18% of the U.S. population, yet 44.8% of Hispanic adults suffer from obesity. U.S. acculturation has been linked to higher prevalence of diabetes in Latino adults. However, the association between acculturation characteristics and screening measurements like BMI as a predictive model for adulthood obesity and disease in U.S. Hispanic children remains largely unexplored. 


Objective: To identify the association between levels of acculturation (using language preferences) and BMI as a predictive measure of obesity and associated diseases in Hispanic-American children.


Design/Methods: This is a retrospective database study using the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) from 1999 to 2004. Included were Hispanic children 12-19 years who responded to acculturation questions. Demographic information, acculturation items, and BMI were abstracted. Acculturation scale was created with each question rated 1 (only Spanish) to 5 (only English), with total score ranging 4 to 20: languages read and spoken, usually spoken at home, used to think, and used with friends. Scores were classified as either least (4-7), less (8-11), more (12-15), or most (16-20) accultured. Subjects with missing data were omitted from analysis. One-way and two-way ANOVA tests using RStudio were used to analyze weighted data against BMI as the response variable, with country of birth serving as the second explanatory variable.


Results: Total subjects were 2319 (Table) with 948 from NHANES 1999-2000, 744 from 2001-2002, and 627 from 2003-2004 with 50% of surveyed males, and 50% females. Mean BMI for 1999-2004 was 24 (+ 5.7). U.S. born Hispanics comprised over 70%, Mexican born was over 20%. One-way ANOVA test showed significant correlation between BMI and birth country (p=0.01), but not BMI and acculturation scores (p=0.05). Two-way ANOVA test showed that when acculturation scores supplemented country of birth data, acculturation scores had significant correlation with BMI (p=0.01). The figure shows median BMIs are consistent across the four acculturation score categories. 


Conclusions: U.S. acculturation scale did not have significant correlation with the BMI of eligible Hispanic-American children from 1999-2004. However, when used as a supplement for birth country data, the acculturation scale and BMI were significantly correlated. U.S. acculturation is not sufficient as a predictive measure for BMI in Hispanic children; however, its association with other variables and whether language-specific traits accurately reflects U.S. acculturation need to be assessed. Birth country data was a better predictive model for BMIs, since U.S. born Hispanics appear to have higher BMI's than those born in Mexico or elsewhere. 

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Connecticut Childrens Medical Center / UConn School of Medicine
University of Connecticut
University of Connecticut
University of Connecticut
University of Connecticut
University of Connecticut

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