Empirically Derived Dietary Patterns Using Robust Profile Clustering in the Hispanic Community Health Study/Study of Latinos

J Nutr. 2020 Oct 12;150(10):2825-2834. doi: 10.1093/jn/nxaa208.


Background: Latent class models (LCMs) have been used in exploring dietary behaviors over a wide set of foods and beverages in a given population, but are prone to overgeneralize these habits in the presence of variation by subpopulations.

Objectives: This study aimed to highlight unique dietary consumption differences by both study site and ethnic background of Hispanic/Latino populations in the United States, that otherwise might be missed in a traditional LCM of the overall population. This was achieved using a new model-based clustering method, referred to as robust profile clustering (RPC).

Methods: A total of 11,320 individuals aged 18-74 y from the Hispanic Community Health Study/Study of Latinos (2008-2011) with complete diet data were classified into 9 subpopulations, defined by study site (Bronx, Chicago, Miami, San Diego) and ethnic background. At baseline, dietary intake was ascertained using a food propensity questionnaire. Dietary patterns were derived from 132 food groups using the RPC method to identify patterns of the general Hispanic/Latino population and those specific to an identified subpopulation. Dietary patterns derived from the RPC were compared to those identified from an LCM.

Results: The LCM identified 48 shared consumption behaviors of foods and beverages across the entire cohort, whereas significant consumption differences in subpopulations were identified in the RPC model for these same foods. Several foods were common within study site (e.g., chicken, orange juice, milk), ethnic background (e.g., papayas, plantain, coffee), or both (e.g., rice, tomatoes, seafood). Post hoc testing revealed an improved model fit in the RPC model [Deviance Information Criterion DICRPC = 2.3 × 104, DICLCM = 9.5 × 106].

Conclusions: Dietary pattern behaviors of Hispanics/Latinos in the United States tend to align by ethnic background for some foods and by location for other foods. Consideration of both factors is imperative to better understand their contributions to population health and developing targeted nutrition intervention studies.

Keywords: Hispanic/Latinos; dietary patterns; food consumption; latent class; robust profile clustering.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Cluster Analysis
  • Cohort Studies
  • Diet Surveys
  • Diet*
  • Feeding Behavior*
  • Hispanic or Latino*
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • United States
  • Young Adult