Behavioral risk factors: a comparison of Latinos and non-Latino whites in San Francisco

Am J Public Health. 1994 Jun;84(6):971-6. doi: 10.2105/ajph.84.6.971.


Objectives: The purpose of the study was to evaluate differences between Latino and non-Latino White adults in health-related behavioral risk factors.

Methods: Telephone interviews were conducted with 652 Latinos and 584 non-Latino Whites in San Francisco selected by random-digit dialing.

Results: Latino men and women, compared with their non-Latino White counterparts, were less likely to have consumed any alcoholic beverage in the previous month (59% and 29% vs 77% and 75%, respectively), consumed fewer drinks per week (6.6 and 3.0 vs 8.9 and 5.1, respectively), and were more likely to be sedentary (40% and 46% vs 17% and 23%). Latina women were less likely than non-Latina Whites to smoke cigarettes (8% vs 29%), to have ever had a Pap smear (76% vs 93%), and to have ever had a clinical breast examination (81% vs 96%). Multivariate analyses adjusting for sex, age, education, and employment confirmed univariate findings.

Conclusions: Behavioral risk factor profiles by ethnicity help emphasize priorities of health promotion programs for a community. Latino needs include maintenance of limited consumption of alcohol and cigarettes, promotion of regular physical activity, and increasing use of low-cost cervical and breast cancer screening tests.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Alcohol Drinking / ethnology
  • Female
  • Health Behavior / ethnology*
  • Hispanic Americans / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Life Style / ethnology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • San Francisco
  • Smoking / ethnology