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The Effects of Acculturation on the Cultural Food Practices of Rural Mexican Immigrants

Arianna Zavala


Background​: Obesity and other diseases such as cardiovascular disease and respiratory disease are negatively impacting Latino groups. These health effects are believed to be a result of dietary changes due to acculturation within the United States. In fact, research has suggested that the longer immigrants reside in a new country the more likely they are to take on new cultural food practices as a result of acculturation. However, there has been much debate on whether acculturation is beneficial or detrimental to the health of immigrants. The purpose of this study is to examine how food related cultural practices and consumption patterns shift when rural Mexican immigrants migrate to the U.S.

Results​: Cultural food practices have shifted in three main areas such as family dynamics, the U.S school lunch system, and ultimately the access of food in Mexico vs. U.S.. Within family dynamics, mothers were forced to join the workforce making fast food their number one source of food. Due to the shift in the school lunch system, it gave children greater access to “American” foods. Lastly, the U.S offers less access to ingredients used in cultural food practices, making it especially difficult to maintain tradition.

Conclusion​: Acculturation in the U.S. is associated with altering food practices that result in worsening health, specifically obesity, for rural Mexican immigrants. The longer amount of time that immigrants stay in the U.S negatively impacts their health status. Acceptance of previous cultural food practices are vital to ensuring the consistent health of Mexican immigrants.

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