Ability of ethnic self-identification to partition modifiable health risk among US residents of Mexican ancestry

Steven D. Barger, Linda C. Gallo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Objectives. We examined the relationship between ethnic self-identification and the partitioning of health risk within a Mexican American population. Methods. We combined data from the 2000 to 2002 National Health Interview Surveys to obtain a large (N=10044) sample of US residents of Mexican ancestry. We evaluated health risk, defined as self-reported currents moking, overweight, and obesity, and compared the predictive strength of health risk correlates across self-identified Mexican and Mexican American participants. Results. Self-identified Mexican participants were less likely to smoke (odds ratio [OR]=0.70; 95% confidence interval[CI] = 0.60, 0.83; P<.001) and to be obese (OR=0.66; 95% CI=0.56, 0.77; P<.001) than were self-identified Mexican American participants. Within-group analyses found that sociodemographic predictors had inconsistent and even contradictory patterns of association with health risk across the 2 subgroups. Health risk was consistently lower among immigrants relative to US-born participants. Ethnic self-identification effects were independent of socioeconomic status. Conclusions. US residents of Mexican ancestry showed substantial within group differences in health risk and risk correlates. Ethnic self-identification is a promising strategy to clarify differential risk and may help resolve apparent discrepancies in health risk correlates in this literature.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1971-1978
Number of pages8
JournalAmerican journal of public health
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 1 2008

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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