Demographic and sociocultural risk factors for adulthood weight gain in Hispanic/Latinos: results from the Hispanic Community Health Study / Study of Latinos (HCHS/SOL)

BMC Public Health. 2021 Nov 10;21(1):2064. doi: 10.1186/s12889-021-11848-9.


Background: United States (US) Hispanic/Latinos experience a disproportionate burden of obesity, which may in part be related to demographic or sociocultural factors, including acculturation to an US diet or inactive lifestyle. Therefore, we sought to describe the association between adulthood weight histories and demographic and sociocultural factors in a large diverse community-based cohort of US Hispanic/Latinos.

Methods: We estimated the effect of several factors on weight gain across adulthood, using multivariable linear mixed models to leverage 38,759 self-reported current body weights and weight histories recalled for 21, 45 and 65 years of age, from 15,203 adults at least 21 years of age at the baseline visit of the Hispanic Community Health Study/Study of Latinos (2008-2011).

Results: The average rate of weight gain was nearly 10 kg per decade in early adulthood, but slowed to < 5 kg a decade among individuals 60+ years of age. Birth cohort, gender, nativity or age at immigration, Hispanic/Latino background, and study site each significantly modified the form of the predicted adulthood weight trajectory. Among immigrants, weight gain during the 5 years post-migration was on average 0.88 kg (95% CI: 0.04, 1.72) greater than the weight gain during the 5 years prior. The rate of weight gain appeared to slow after 15 years post-migration.

Conclusions: Using self-reported and weight history data in a diverse sample of US Hispanic/Latinos, we revealed that both demographic and sociocultural factors were associated with the patterning of adulthood weight gain in this sample. Given the steep rate of weight gain in this population and the fact that many Hispanic/Latinos living in the US immigrated as adults, efforts to promote weight maintenance across the life course, including after immigration, should be a top priority for promoting Hispanic/Latino health and addressing US health disparities more broadly.

Keywords: Adults; Emigration and immigration; Hispanic Americans; Latino health; Weight gain.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Birth Cohort*
  • Hispanic or Latino*
  • Humans
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors
  • Self Report
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Weight Gain
  • Young Adult