Background: U.S. Latino adults have experienced an 80% increase in obesity in the last decade.
Methods: A cross-sectional survey of 18-64-year-old Latino women (N = 380) and men (N = 335) from a community sample, and men (N = 186) from an agricultural labor camp sample in Monterey County, California, provided data on correlates of obesity.
Results: In the community and labor camp samples, prevalences of chronic disease risk factors (high blood pressure and cholesterol, diabetes) were 1.5-7 times higher in the heaviest compared with the leanest weight groups. Higher acculturation (generational status, years lived in the United States) was the strongest correlate of obesity (measured by BMI) in the community sample (P < 0.001), followed by less exercise and poorer diet (P values < 0.05). Women who exercised <2.5 h/week, watched TV regularly, ate chips/fried snacks, and ate no fruit the previous day were 45 lbs heavier than women with healthier habits. Men who did not exercise, rarely trimmed fat from meat, and ate fried foods the previous day were 16 lbs heavier than men with healthier habits. Discussions with health care providers about diet/exercise were associated with more accurate weight perception and more weight loss attempts in obese participants in both samples.
Conclusions: The associations of acculturation, exercise, and diet to BMI implicate societal as well as individual contributors to obesity among U.S. Latinos.