Reconsidering acculturation in dietary change research among Latino immigrants: Challenging the preconditions of US migration

Airín D. Martínez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

48 Scopus citations


Background. Dietary changes among Latino immigrants are often attributed to acculturation. Acculturation-diet research typically assumes that migration to the US is necessary for negative dietary changes to occur in Latino immigrants' diets. Objective. The goal of this article is to demonstrate that extant acculturation research is not adequate in capturing changes in Latino immigrants' diets. This is due to the role of globalization and transnational processes in modernizing their diets in Latin America. Design. Utilizing an interactionist cultural studies approach, this exploratory situational analysis based on 27 in-depth interviews with Latino immigrants, nutrition reports, and transnational food companies' websites, examines how Latino immigrants were already engaging in negative dietary practices in their former country. Results. Latino immigrants who resided in urban areas in their former countries and migrated to the US on or after 2000 were fully engaged in negative dietary practices prior to migration. Such practices included consuming food outside of the home and integrating processed food into their cooking. Their dietary practices were also informed by nutrition discourses. The modernization of food production and consumption and the transnational transmission of nutrition are transnational processes changing Latino immigrants' diets prior to migration. Conclusion. Researchers should approach the study of dietary change among Latino immigrants in the US through a transnational perspective in order to avoid overlooking potential confounders such as current food insecurity, new socioeconomic positions as undocumented, low-income persons, and increased hours worked outside of the home.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)115-135
Number of pages21
JournalEthnicity and Health
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1 2013


  • Acculturation
  • Diet
  • Globalization
  • Latino immigrants
  • Transnational approach

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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