Award Date


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Committee Member

Robert Futrell

Second Committee Member

Tirth Bhatta

Third Committee Member

Jennifer Keene

Fourth Committee Member

Erika Marquez

Number of Pages



This dissertation examines the relationship between sociocultural assimilation and health behaviors among adult Latinxs in the United States to address whether different assimilation models promote or hinder Latinx health. Existing research on assimilation and health behaviors among Latinxs relies heavily on the use of proxy measures of assimilation such as length of time in the U.S., nativity, age of arrival, and language preferences for surveys. These studies tend to show that greater assimilation to mainstream U.S. culture among Latinxs is associated with the adoption of poor health behaviors and the erosion of the immigrant health advantage. Research that uses sociocultural assimilation measures to examine the assimilation-health behaviors relationship is sparse, especially for vigorous leisure-time physical activity (VLTPA) and sugar-sweetened beverage consumption (SSB) consumption. For instance, no research exists on the impact of ethnic social relations, ethnic identity, and perceived discrimination on VLTPA. Additionally, most past research on assimilation and health behaviors treats Latinxs as a monolith, without discernment by Latinx subgroup (e.g., Puerto Rican, Dominican). The first purpose of this dissertation is to examine whether sociocultural measures of assimilation are associated with three key health behaviors: VLTPA, SSB consumption, and fruit and vegetable (F&V) consumption. The second purpose is to determine whether sociocultural measures of assimilation help explain the relationship between the proxy measure—years in the U.S.—and each of the health behaviors (i.e., VLTPA, SSB, and F&V consumption). Lastly, I seek to examine differences in these healthy behaviors by Latinx subgroup. I examined data from the Hispanic Community Health Study/Study of Latinos (HCHS/SOL), which is comprised of Latinxs aged 18-75 years old from four U.S. cities (Miami, FL; New York, NY; Chicago, IL; and San Diego, CA). Using data from the first wave (2008-2011) of the HCHS, I employed negative binomial and zero-inflated negative binomial regression models to examine whether sociocultural measures of assimilation were associated VLTPA, SSB, and F&V consumption (n= 11,042). I used three separate samples based on the variables of interest for the three separate analyses. Additionally, I employed five direct sociocultural measures of assimilation to examine the assimilation-health behavior relationship including the language use subscale, ethnic social relations subscale, ethnic identity scale, familismo scale, and perceived discrimination scale. The results indicate that linguistic acculturation and perceived discrimination were associated with greater VLTPA after adjusting for sociodemographic covariates. Sociocultural assimilation measures were not significantly associated with SSB and F&V consumption. However, greater years in the US—the proxy measure—was associated with lower vegetable consumption. Sociocultural measures do not appear to help explain the relationship between the proxy measure and the three health behaviors: Cubans had the lowest average hours per week of VLTPA among Latinx subgroups while Puerto Ricans had the highest. Additionally, Puerto Ricans had the lowest rates of F&V consumption and the highest SSB consumption among all Latinx subgroups. In conclusion, it appears that the five sociocultural assimilation measures examined may not have a significant bearing on SSB and F&V consumption, but that two do have an important bearing on VLTPA. Overall, assimilation appears to negatively impact key components of healthful dietary behavior, but has a positive impact on a particular type of physical activity—VLTPA. These findings inform interventions to promote health, reveal limitations of the Angloconformity model of assimilation, and highlight the benefit of a cultural pluralistic model of assimilation to promote and maintain health.


Fruit consumption; Hispanic; Puerto Ricans; Sugar-sweetened beverages; Vegetable consumption; Vigorous leisure-time physical activity


Public Health | Social and Behavioral Sciences | Sociology

File Format


File Size

2200 KB

Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




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