Health Behaviors among Low-income Hispanic and Non-Hispanic White Women

Am J Health Behav. 2018 May 1;42(3):56-68. doi: 10.5993/AJHB.42.3.6.


Objectives: We determined relationships between food behaviors and health-risk factors by acculturation among limited-income Hispanic and non-Hispanic white women.

Methods: Women aged 18-49 years were recruited from income-based programs in metro-Phoenix, Arizona. Self-administered surveys in English or Spanish included demographics, a 10-item food behavior checklist, health-risk factors, food security, and acculturation. Differences by 4 acculturation/ethnicity categories were assessed with chi-square and analysis of variance (ANOVA). We created a food behavior scale.

Results: Eighty-two percent self-identified as Hispanic (N = 358), with 45% Hispanic-dominant, 25% bicultural, 12% English-dominant, and 18% non-Hispanic white for acculturation status. Food behavior checklist results showed that English-dominant Hispanic and non-Hispanic white women were more likely to feed their children soon after waking, refrigerate meat/dairy promptly, not add salt to food, smoke cigarettes and be food insecure (p < .001). Education, not acculturation, was a significant predictor of the food behavior scale. BMI did not differ by acculturation, but 33% of Hispanic-dominant Latinas did not know their height and/or weight. These less acculturated Latinas had significantly greater food security, but lacked health insurance and years of education.

Conclusions: Program outreach tailored by acculturation that considers educational level is needed to emphasize existing positive behaviors and address knowledge gaps among low socioeconomic women to improve health and reduce disparities.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acculturation
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Educational Status
  • Feeding Behavior / psychology*
  • Female
  • Food Supply
  • Health Behavior*
  • Hispanic or Latino / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Poverty
  • Risk Factors
  • White People / psychology*
  • Young Adult