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Language use affects food behaviours and food values among Mexican-origin adults in the USA

  • Brent A Langellier (a1), Ron Brookmeyer (a2), May C Wang (a3) and Deborah Glik (a3)

Abstract

Objective

Previous studies have established that acculturation is associated with dietary intake among Mexican immigrants and their offspring, but few studies have investigated whether food purchasing, food preparation or food-related values act as mechanisms of dietary acculturation. We examine the relationship between language use and a wide range of food behaviours and food-related values among Mexican-American adults.

Design

Nationally representative probability sample of the US population.

Setting

2005–2010 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.

Subjects

Mexican-American adults (n 2792) at least 20 years of age.

Results

Mexican Americans who speak only or mostly English consume more energy from fast-food and sit-down restaurants and report increased consumption of non-homemade meals, fast-food and pizza meals, frozen meals and ready-to-eat meals relative to Spanish speakers. English speakers prepare one fewer homemade dinner per week and spend less time on meal preparation. English speakers are more likely than Spanish speakers to cite convenience as an important reason why they prefer fast food over cooking at home. There is no relationship between language use and the perceived importance of the nutritional quality, price or taste of fast food.

Conclusions

Our results provide evidence that the well-documented relationship between acculturation and diet among Mexican Americans may be just one indicator of a broader pattern characterized by decreased home meal preparation and increased reliance on convenience foods.

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Copyright

Corresponding author

*Corresponding author: Email blangell@email.arizona.edu

References

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