Objectives: We explore the association between a neighbourhood's ethnic composition and the foods and nutrients consumed by Mexican-Americans.
Design: Cross-sectional survey of a large national sample, from the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (1988-94), was linked to the 1990 Census. The outcomes were food frequencies and serum levels of micronutrients. The variable of interest was percentage of Mexican-Americans at the census tract level.
Setting: United States.
Subjects: A total of 5306 Mexican-American men and women aged 17-90 years.
Results: Increased percentage of Mexican-Americans at the census tract level was associated with less consumption of fruits, carrots, spinach/greens and broccoli and with lower serum levels of Se, lycopene, alpha-carotene, vitamin C and folate. By contrast, increased percentage of Mexican-Americans at the census tract level was associated with more consumption of corn, tomatoes, hot red chilli peppers and legumes such as beans, lentils or chickpeas.
Conclusions: An increased percentage of Mexican-Americans at the census tract level was associated with less consumption of selective foods (e.g. some fruits, broccoli) and low levels of serum Se or vitamin C, but it was associated with more consumption of other foods (e.g. legumes, tomatoes, corn products) that may have positive effects on health in this population.