237723 Segmented assimilation patterns and obesity among Latino adults in the United States

Monday, October 31, 2011: 8:45 AM

Karen Florez, DrPH, MPH , Health Unit, RAND Corporation, Santa Monica, CA
Segmented assimilation theory posits immigrants experience distinct paths of assimilation characterized as “classic” (i.e., adoption of middle-class values while relinquishing ethnic values), “underclass” (i.e., pattern typified by poverty and antagonistic attitudes towards middle-class values), and “segmented” (i.e., path characterized by economic advancement while maintaining ethnic values). Using the National Latino and Asian American Survey, the study evaluated this theory in relation to obesity (i.e., BMI≥30) among Latinos. The hypotheses were (1) patterns of assimilation would fit a similar typology postulated by segmented assimilation theory and (2) obesity prevalence would be lowest in the segmented pattern and highest in the classic pattern. A two-step cluster analysis was performed using standardized measures of income, education, social status, ethnic affiliation, generation status, and language use. An optimal number of clusters were determined by using the Schwarz Bayesian Information Criterion. Four clusters emerged, with a “second generation classic” cluster (N=487; 19.2 %) characterized by second generation individuals with average SES and low ethnic values. A “third generation classic” pattern (N=364, 14.4%) consisted of third generation individuals with average SES and low ethnic values. An “underclass” cluster (N=936, 37.0%) was characterized by first generation immigrants with low SES and high ethnic values. A “segmented assimilation” pattern (N=592, 23.4%) consisted of first generation individuals with average SES and high ethnic factors. In logistic analyzes controlling for the effects of age, ethnicity, time in the U.S., sex, activity limitation and health status, second generation classic individuals had higher odds of obesity (OR= 2.70, 95% CI 1.47-4.93) relative to the segmented pattern. Similarly, third generation classic individuals had higher odds of obesity (OR=3.23, 95% CI 1.74-6.01) compared to segmented assimilation individuals. Findings highlight the public health importance of understanding acculturation among Latinos within theoretical frameworks and the usefulness of a segmented assimilation typology for the study of obesity.

Learning Areas:
Diversity and culture
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Identify the main components of the theory of segmented assimilation and evaluate the usefulness of the theory in the study of obesity among immigrant Latinos

Keywords: Culture, Latinos

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I obtained my doctorate at Columbia’s Mailman School of Public Health and I am now an Associate Social Scientist at the RAND Corporation. My work focuses on social and cultural factors affecting immigrant Latino health in the United States. Specifically, my investigations have dealt with the concept of acculturation (i.e., the process by which immigrants begin to espouse the norms, values, and behaviors of the dominant culture) among Spanish-speaking immigrants. I have published research on the association between acculturation and its impact on a variety of health behavior, and my dissertation examined obesity using the innovative theory of segmented assimilation among Latino adults. I have numerous awards, including a National Research Service Award from NHLBI, the Health Professional Scholarship from the National Hispanic Health Foundation, and the Goldmann Student Merit Award from the Public Health Association of NYC.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.