Physical Activity Patterns and Obesity in Hispanic and Non-Hispanic White Women


Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise: January 2006 - Volume 38 - Issue 1 - pp 33-41
Basic Sciences: Epidemiology

Purpose: Cultural differences in diet and lifestyle patterns probably contribute to cancer rates among ethnic groups in the United States. In this paper, we describe physical activity patterns of Hispanic and non-Hispanic white women living in the southwestern United States and the effects of these patterns on obesity.

Methods: We use data from population-based controls (N = 2039) participating in the 4-Corner’s Breast Cancer Study to evaluate associations between physical activity and language acculturation and the associated effects on obesity.

Results: The majority of both Hispanic and non-Hispanic white women did not perform 30 min of activity ≥5 d·wk−1, although a greater percentage of Hispanic women meet the goal if they reported higher levels of language acculturation. However, the type and intensity of activities performed by Hispanic and non-Hispanic women differed; Hispanic women reported more housework, dependent care giving, dancing, and work activity. Differences in activity patterns existed by level of language acculturation among Hispanic women. Hispanic women who had higher levels of language acculturation reported continued activity throughout their lives. Prevalence of obesity was greater among Hispanic than non-Hispanic white women for all levels of language acculturation. Women with intermediate levels of language acculturation had the greatest relative risk of obesity compared with non-Hispanic white women (odds ratio (OR) = 2.79, 95% confidence interval (CI) = 1.85–4.02); Hispanic women with higher levels of language acculturation also were at increased relative risk of obesity (OR = 1.78, 95% CI = 1.28–2.47).

Conclusions: Interventions to increase physical activity among Hispanic women are needed to address the problems of physical inactivity and obesity in that population. Facilitating culturally relevant activities might be reasonable approaches to increasing physical activity.

1University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT; 2Department of Internal Medicine and the Cancer Research and Treatment Center Epidemiology and Cancer Prevention Program, University of New Mexico Health Science Center, Albuquerque NM; 3University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ; and 4University of Colorado School of Medicine, Denver, CO

Address for correspondence: M. L. Slattery, University of Utah, 375 Chipeta Way Suite A, Salt Lake City, UT 84108; E-mail:

Submitted for publication May 2005.

Accepted for publication July 2005.

We acknowledge the contributions of Karen Curtin, Roger Edwards, Leslie Palmer. Betsy Riesendal, Tara Patton, and Kelly May to this study.

The contents of this manuscript are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official view of the National Cancer Institute.

This study was funded by grants CA 078682, CA 078762, CA078552, CA078802. This research also was supported by the Utah Cancer Registry, which is funded by Contract #N01-PC-67000 from the National Cancer Institute, with additional support from the State of Utah Department of Health.

©2006The American College of Sports Medicine