Dietary Acculturation, Physical Activity and Body Image in Limited-Resource Latino Women in Northern Virginia
The purpose of this study was to collect exploratory data on dietary acculturation, physical activity, and body image in a limited resource Latina population in northern Virginia. Acculturation may be described as a process in which members of one cultural group adopt the beliefs and behaviors of another group. Acculturation has been associated with a variety changes in terms of diet, physical activity and body image. Most dietary acculturation research in the U.S. has focused on Mexican Americans, Cuban Americans, and Puerto Ricans; however this study was composed of mostly Central and South Americans. Eighty-five subjects were recruited from the Arlington County Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program, Arlington County Women, Infants, and Children program, and the Fairfax County Parklawn Family Center. Demographic information, acculturation, fruit and vegetable intake, saturated fat avoidance, physical activity, and body image were assessed with written survey instruments. The results indicated that this Latina population with limited resources in northern Virginia was mainly from Bolivia and El Salvador, and was not highly acculturated. Almost half of the participants were overweight or obese. About 50% of the population met the 5-A-Day goal for fruit and vegetable intake and almost 95% of participants exhibited at least one form of saturated fat avoidance. Eighty-five percent of the population reported participating in 30 minutes or more leisure-time physical activity less than 3 times each week, though a similar percentage reported that physical activity was important for health. Sixty percent of respondents were on a weight loss diet. While there was a significant relationship between the number of servings of fruit consumed and acculturation, there was no significant relationship between acculturation and any other dietary, physical activity or body image factor measured. The results of this study provide a baseline for further research in the limited resource Latina population in northern Virginia.