Neighborhood Contexts and Dietary Acculturation among Mexican-Origin Children

Jennifer Van Hook, Pennsylvania State University
Susana Quiros, Pennsylvania State University
Michelle Frisco, Pennsylvania State University
Emnet Fikru, Pennsylvania State University

We use data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey to explore how Mexican-origin children’s spatial assimilation shapes the process of dietary acculturation. We used a new measure of dietary acculturation that measures how similar Mexican-origin children’s diets are to same-aged 3rd generation children's diets. Our preliminary results indicated that generational status is strongly associated with Mexican children’s dietary acculturation. Second, Mexican-origin children who live in neighborhoods with higher concentrations of foreign-born Mexicans had lower levels of dietary acculturation, but dietary acculturation was higher among children living in neighborhoods with higher percentages of non-Hispanic whites and persons with low educational attainment. Third, dietary acculturation among Mexican-origin children is probably not caused by spatial assimilation. The dispersion of Mexicans to more ethnically diverse neighborhoods was associated with increased dietary assimilation, but this was offset by a concurrent shift to more affluent neighborhoods (with more educational attainment).

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Presented in Session 41: Assimilation and Integration