The Association Between Marital Status, Spousal Ethnic Identity, Acculturation, and BMI Among Latino New Lawful Permanent Residents in the United States: An Examination of the New Immigrant Survey Open Access

Bishop, Natalie (2015)

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Background: As the number of Latino immigrants continues to increase in the U.S., it is important to investigate health disparities between foreign- and native-born individuals. Overall, the literature supports that the longer immigrants stay in the U.S., the worse their health status.

Objective : This study examines (1) whether acculturation mediates the relationship between marital status (e.g., married/living together but not married vs. single) and BMI among new Latino lawful permanent residents, and (2) whether acculturation mediates the relationship between spousal ethnic identity (e.g., intra-ethnic relationship vs. inter-ethnic relationship) and BMI among new Latino lawful permanent residents.

Methods: The New Immigrant Survey (NIS) is a multi-cohort prospective-retrospective panel study of recent legal immigrants in the U.S. It is a public-use dataset that aims to provide a longitudinal study on new lawful permanent residents. A weighted subset of the total Adult Sample (n=2,680) was used for analyses and only respondents that self-identified as Hispanic or Latino were included in the final dataset. Two separate multiple linear regressions were run; one including marital status as a predictor and the other including spousal ethnic identity as a predictor to determine grounds for mediation models.

Results: Latino lawful permanent residents who were married or living in a married-like relationship had a BMI that was 0.566 points higher than those who were single, while controlling for age, sex, years of education, hypertension, diabetes, primary language spoken, and time spent in the U.S. (p=0.027). Acculturation did not mediate the relationship between marital status and BMI. Spousal ethnic identity was not statistically associated with BMI (p=0.583). Acculturation did not mediate the relationship between spousal ethnic identity and BMI.

Discussion: Latino lawful permanent residents who are married or in marriage-like relationship have higher BMIs than those who are single. Spousal ethnic identity was not related to BMI, yet this study adds to the literature, as few studies attempt to understand the relationship between spousal ethnic identity and health. The results of this study may have important implications as it points to what types of needs and services should be prioritized for Latino immigrants.

Table of Contents

Introduction. 1

Theoretical Framework. 4

Purpose of Study. 7

Significance of Study. 9

Literature Review. 10

Immigrants in the United States. 10

U.S. Legal Immigration. 10

The Immigrant and Hispanic Paradoxes. 11

Acculturation: A History. 13

Models of Acculturation. 15

Acculturation and the Hispanic Paradox. 17

Dietary Acculturation. 18

Overweight and Obesity. 19

Social Support and Health Among Latinos. 21

Marital Status and Health. 22

Spousal Ethnic Identity. 23

Gaps in the Literature. 25

Methods. 26

New Immigrant Survey Study Design. 26

Sampling Design. 26

Survey Procedure. 27

Language Considerations. 28


Data Analysis. 35

Results. 37

Discussion. 50

Main Findings by Hypothesis. 50

Limitations. 54

Implications and Recommendations. 56

Conclusion. 58

Appendix A. Frequency tables of verbatim food responses among Latino lawful permanent residents in unweighted sample. 59

References. 66

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