A systematic review of the relationship between acculturation and diet among Latinos in the United States: implications for future research

J Am Diet Assoc. 2008 Aug;108(8):1330-44. doi: 10.1016/j.jada.2008.05.009.


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.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Acculturation*
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Diet / ethnology*
  • Diet / psychology
  • Diet Surveys
  • Dietary Fats / administration & dosage
  • Feeding Behavior / ethnology
  • Feeding Behavior / psychology
  • Female
  • Health Behavior / ethnology
  • Hispanic or Latino / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Obesity / epidemiology
  • Obesity / ethnology*
  • Poverty*
  • United States


  • Dietary Fats