How Well Do U.S. Hispanics Adhere to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans? Results from the Hispanic Community Health Study/Study of Latinos

Health Equity. 2019 Jul 11;3(1):319-327. doi: 10.1089/heq.2018.0105. eCollection 2019.


Purpose: To examine alignment between 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA) and dietary choices of individuals in the Hispanic Community Health Study/Study of Latinos (HCHS/SOL) between 2008 and 2011. Methods: Data are from 15,633 adults 18-74 years from the population-based cohort in HCHS/SOL. The Healthy Eating Index (HEI) 2010 was used to measure diet quality. Means and standard errors (SEs) for the HEI total and each of the 12 component scores were calculated overall and by Hispanic/Latino heritage, sex, age group, and measures of acculturation. Linear regression was used to examine correlates of the HEI 2010 total score. All analyses accounted for complex survey design. Results: The overall HEI mean of 63.8 (SE: 0.4) varied across groups from a high (healthier diet) of 71 (SE: 0.9) among Mexicans to a low of 56 (SE: 0.1) among Puerto Ricans. The proportion with a maximum score for the HEI components varied across heritage groups; >25% of adults adhered to recommendations for total proteins, and seafood and plant proteins, whole fruits, and greens and beans, with the exception of Cubans and Puerto Ricans, who had lower adherence scores for the latter two. The components with the lowest adherence were sodium (<2%) and fatty acids (overall 7.4%) among all heritage groups. Characteristics associated with better adherence included sociodemographic variables, Spanish language preference, weight status, medical conditions, and lifestyle behaviors. Conclusions: Individuals with Mexican, Dominican, and Central American heritage had better overall dietary quality compared to other groups. However, all can improve their eating habits to align more with the DGAs by reducing sodium consumption and improving fatty acid ratios.

Keywords: Dietary Guidelines; Hispanics; diet; healthy eating.