Previous studies have implicated acculturation to the US as a risk factor for unhealthy behaviors among Hispanic and Asian-American adolescents, including substance use, violence, and unsafe sex. This study examined the association between acculturation and obesity-related behaviors•physical activity and fast-food consumption•among 619 Asian-American and 1385 Hispanic adolescents in Southern California. Respondents completed surveys in 6th and 7th grade. The 6th grade survey assessed acculturation with the AHIMSA acculturation scale and a measure of English language usage. The 7th grade survey assessed frequency of moderate-to-intense physical activity and frequency of eating fast-food. Multiple regression analyses included acculturation and demographic covariates as predictors of physical activity and fast-food consumption. Acculturation to the US, assessed in 6th grade, was significantly associated with a lower frequency of physical activity participation and a higher frequency of fast-food consumption in 7th grade. The significant associations persisted after controlling for covariates and were consistent across gender and ethnic groups. Results suggest that acculturation to the US is a risk factor for obesity-related behaviors among Asian-American and Hispanic adolescents. Health promotion programs are needed to encourage physical activity and healthy diets among adolescents in acculturating families.
This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Price excludes VAT (USA)
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Freedman D, Srinivasan S, Valdez R, Williamson D, Berenson G. Secular increase in relative weight and adiposity among children over two decades: The Bogalusa Heart Study. Pediatrics 1997; 99:420–426.
Strauss R, Pollack H. Epidemic increase in childhood overweight. JAMA 2001; 286: 2845–2848.
Ogden CL, Flegal KM, Carroll MD, Johnson CL. Prevalence and Trends in Overweight Among US Children and Adolescents, 1999–2000. JAMA 2002; 288:1728–1732.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance—United States, 2001. MMWR. 2002; 51(SS04):1–64.
Lauderdale DS, Rathouz PJ. Body mass index in a US national sample of Asian Americans: effects of nativity, years since immigration and socioeconomic status. Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord 2000; 24:1188–1194.
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Physical activity and health: A report of the Surgeon General. Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, 1996.
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The Surgeon General's call to action to prevent and decrease overweight and obesity. Rockville, MD: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, Office of the Surgeon General, 2001.
Coutts A. Nutrition and the life cycle: Nutrition and the school child. Br J Nurs 2001; 10:26–31.
Dietz WH, Gortmaker SL. Preventing obesity in children and adolescents. Annu Rev Public Health 2001; 22:337–353.
Jeffery A, Voss L, Metcalf B, Wilkin T. Causes of insulin resistance in childhood. Nurs Stand 2002; 16:33–37.
Kiess W, Reich A, Muller G, Meyer K, Galler A, Bennek J, Kratzsch J. Clinical aspects of obesity in childhood and adolescence—diagnosis, treatment and prevention. Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord 2001; 25:S75–S79.
Rocchini AP. Pediatric hypertension 2001. Curr Opin Cardiol 2002; 17:385–389.
Westenhoefer J. Establishing dietary habits during childhood for long-term weight control. Ann NutrMetab 2002; 46:18–23.
Gordon-Larsen P, McMurray RG, Popkin, BM. Adolescent physical activity and inactivity vary by ethnicity: The National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health. J Pediatr 1999; 135:301–306.
Guthrie JF, Lin BH, Frazao E. Role of food prepared away from home in the American diet, 1977–78 versus 1994–1996: Changes and consequences. J Nutr Educ Behav 2002; 34:140–150.
Nielsen SJ, Siega-Riz AM, Popkin BM. Trends in food locations and sources among adolescents and young adults. Prev Med 2002; 35:107–113.
Nielsen SJ, Popkin BM. Patterns and trends in food portion sizes, 1977–1998. JAMA 2003; 289:450–453.
French SA, Harnack L, Jeffery RW. Fast food restaurant use among women in the Pound of Prevention study: Dietary, behavioral and demographic correlates. Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord 2000; 24:1353–1359.
Jeffery RW, French SA. Epidemic obesity in the US: are fast foods and television viewing contributing? Am J Public Health 1998; 88:277–280.
Epstein JA, Botvin GJ, Diaz T. Linguistic acculturation associated with higher marijuana and polydrug use among Hispanic adolescents. Subst Use Misuse 2001; 36:477–499.
Makimoto K. Drinking patterns and drinking problems among Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders. Alc Health Res World 1998; 22:270–275.
Unger JB, Cruz, TB, Rohrbach LA, Ribisl K, Baezconde-Garbanati L, Chen X, Trinidad DR, Johnson CA. English language usage as a risk factor for smoking among Latino and Asian-American adolescents: Evidence for mediation by tobacco-related beliefs and social norms. Health Psychol 2000; 19:403–410.
Samaniego RY, Gonzales NA. Multiple mediators of the effects of acculturation status on delinquency for Mexican American adolescents. Am Journal Community Psychol 1999; 27:189–210.
Rasmussen KM, Negy C, Carlson R, Burns JM. Suicidal ideation and acculturation among low socioeconomic status Mexican American adolescents. J Early Adolesc 1997; 17:390–407.
Gowen LK, Hayward C, Killen JD, Robinson TN, Taylor CB. Acculturation and eating disorder symptoms in adolescent girls. J Res Adolesc 1999; 9:67–83.
Fraser D, Piacentini J, Van Rossem R, Hien D, Rotheram-Borus MJ. Effects of acculturation and psychopathology on sexual behavior and substance use of suicidal Hispanic adolescents. Hisp J Behav Sci 1998; 20:83–101.
Kaplan CP, Erickson PI, Juarez–Reyes M. Acculturation, gender role orientation, and reproductive risk-taking behavior among Latina adolescent family planning clients. J Adolesc Res 2002; 17:103–121.
Romero-Gwynn E, Gwynn D. Dietary Patterns and Acculturation Among Latinos of Mexican Descent, JSRI Research Report #23. East Lansing, Michigan: The Julian Samora Research Institute, Michigan State University, 1997.
Wang MC, Ho TF, Block G, Lee M, Anderson J, Sabry ZI. Adiposity, dietary and physical activity patterns in ethnic Chinese youths: a cross-country comparison of Singaporean Chinese and Chinese Americans. Asia Pac J Clin Nutr 1994; 3:69–82.
Satia JA, Patterson RE, Kristal AR, Hislop TG, Yasui Y, Taylor VM. Development of scales to measure dietary acculturation among Chinese–Americans and Chinese–Canadians. J Am Diet Assoc 2001; 101:548–553.
Lynn LL, Kang KJ, Ludman EK. Korean elderly: Diet, food beliefs, and acculturation. J Nutr Elderly 1999; 19:1–16.
Unger JB, Gallaher P, Palmer PH, Baezconde-Garbanati L, Trinidad DR, Cen S, Johnson CA. No news is bad news: Characteristics of adolescents who provide neither parental consent nor refusal for participation in school-based survey research. Eval Rev, 2004; 28:52–63.
Unger JB, Hamilton JE, Sussman S. A family member's job loss as a risk factor for smoking among adolescents. Health Psychol, 2004; 23:308–313.
Unger JB, Gallaher P, Shakib S, Ritt-Olson A, Palmer PH, Johnson CA. The AHIMSA Acculturation Scale: A new measure of acculturation for adolescents in a multicultural society. J Early Adolesc 2002; 22:225–251.
Portes A, Rumbaut RG. The story of the immigrant second generation: Legacies. Los Angeles, University of California Press, 2001.
Myers D, Baer WC, Choi SY. The Changing Problem of Overcrowded Housing. J Amer Planning Assoc 1996; 62:66–84.
Crespo CJ, Smith E, Troian RP, Bartlett SJ, Macera CA, Anderson RE. Television watching, energy intake and obesity in US children. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med 2001; 155:360–365.
Hill JO, Wyatt HR, Reed GW, Peters JC. Obesity and the environment: where do we go from here? Science 2003; 299:853–855.
Szapocznik J, Rio AT, Perez-Vidal A, Kurtines W. Bicultural effectiveness training (BET): An experimental test of an intervention modality for families experiencing intergenerational/intercultural contact. Hisp J Behav Sci 1986; 8:303–330.
Buriel R, Perez W, DeMent TL, Chavez DV, Moran V. The relationship of language brokering to academic performance, biculturalism, and self-efficacy among Latino adolescents. Hisp J Behav Sci 1998; 20:283–297.
Dolcini MM, Adler NE, Ginsberg D. Factors influencing agreement between self-reports and biological measures of smoking among adolescents. J Res Adolesc 1996; 6:515–542.
Wills TA, Cleary SD. The validity of self-reports of smoking: Analyses by race/ethnicity in a school sample of urban adolescents. Am J Public Health 1997; 87:56–61.
Davis C, Katzman MA. Perfection as acculturation: Psychological correlates of eating problems in Chinese male and female students living in the US. Int J Eat Disord 1999; 25:65–70.
Rights and permissions
About this article
Cite this article
Unger, J.B., Reynolds, K., Shakib, S. et al. Acculturation, Physical Activity, and Fast-Food Consumption Among Asian-American and Hispanic Adolescents. Journal of Community Health 29, 467–481 (2004). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10900-004-3395-3
- Physical activity