Health practices among Mexican Americans: Further evidence from the human population laboratory studies

Robert E. Roberts, Eun Sul Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Data are presented from sample surveys conducted in 1974 (N = 3,119) and 1975 (N = 657) in Alameda County, California, comparing discretionary health practices of Mexican Americans, Blacks, and Anglos. Practices include hours of sleep, regularity of meals, physical activity, obesity, smoking and drinking. Analyses reported focus on a summary measure of health practices and measures of smoking and exercise. Comparisons of crude percentages indicate that while there are differences among the groups, they are not dramatic. In general, Mexican Americans report fewer overall health practices, less exercise, and less smoking than Anglos. Controlling for the effects of age, sex, income, education, perceived health, health status, and use of health examinations reduces differences in overall health practices by decreasing Anglo rates and increasing rates for Chicanos and Blacks. However, even after adjustment for demographic and socioeconomic differences, rates remain lower for the two minority groups. Controlling for the effects of the eight covariates also reduces ethnic differences in exercise, but Chicanos still rank the lowest in terms of reported physical activity. By contrast, adjustment for demographic and socioeconomic differences does not reduce ethnic differentials in smoking behavior. Before and after adjustment Chicanos smoke least and Blacks smoke most. In general, controlling for socioeconomic status and health has the most effect, while some additional explanation is provided by age and sex. Overall, however, ethnicity and the covariates account for less than 10% of the variance in smoking and overall health practices, and less than 20% of the variance in exercise.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)675-688
Number of pages14
JournalPreventive medicine
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1980
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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