Is Socioeconomic Incorporation Associated with a Healthier Diet? Dietary Patterns among Mexican-American Children

Jennifer Van Hook, Pennsylvania State University
Molly A. Martin, Pennsylvania State University
Susana Sanchez, Pennsylvania State University

We explore whether and how children’s nutrition is related to socioeconomic advancement among Mexican Americans. We specifically compare children in families with low versus medium socioeconomic status and explore whether these socioeconomic status patterns vary according to their parents’ nativity. Our preliminary analyses of the 1999-2006 NHANES suggest that exposure to the United States is associated with a mixture of positive and negative outcomes. On the one hand, we see evidence of significant socioeconomic mobility between Mexican-American children of immigrants and children of natives. Additionally, we find strong evidence that Mexican-American children of immigrants have much healthier diets than non-Hispanic white children, consistent with prior research. On the other hand, these dietary advantages appear to be concentrated among poor immigrant families. Additional parental education does not appear to be related to better nutrition, and greater family income may even be associated with worse nutrition.

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Presented in Session 219: Economic Circumstances, Child Health, and Well-Being