Allostatic Load Among Non-Hispanic Whites, Non-Hispanic Blacks, and People of Mexican Origin: Effects of Ethnicity, Nativity, and Acculturation

Department of Preventive Medicine and Community Health, 301 University Blvd, Galveston, TX 77555-1153, USA.
American Journal of Public Health (Impact Factor: 4.55). 10/2009; 100(5):940-6. DOI: 10.2105/AJPH.2007.129312
Source: PubMed


We investigated ethnic differences in allostatic load in a population-based sample of adults living in Texas City, TX, and assessed the effects of nativity and acculturation status on allostatic load among people of Mexican origin.
We used logistic regression models to examine ethnic variations in allostatic load scores among non-Hispanic Whites, non-Hispanic Blacks, and people of Mexican origin. We also examined associations between measures of acculturation and allostatic load scores among people of Mexican origin only.
Foreign-born Mexicans were the least likely group to score in the higher allostatic load categories. Among individuals of Mexican origin, US-born Mexican Americans had higher allostatic load scores than foreign-born Mexicans, and acculturation measures did not account for the difference.
Our findings expand on recent research from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey with respect to ethnicity and allostatic load. Our results are consistent with the healthy immigrant hypothesis (i.e., newer immigrants are healthier) and the acculturation hypothesis, according to which the longer Mexican immigrants reside in the United States, the greater their likelihood of potentially losing culture-related health-protective effects.

Download full-text


Available from: James S Goodwin,
  • Source
    • "Sources of acculturation stress include language barriers, racism and discrimination , low socioeconomic status and income inequality, low perceived control over employment, separation from family , and fear of deportation (D'Alonzo, 2012). AL appears to increase dramatically among Latinos following immigration to the United States, concurrent with the onset of acculturation stress (Kaestner, Pearson, Keene, & Geronimus, 2009; Peeke et al., 2010). Immigrants with low levels of education who suffer from frustrated social expectations are more likely to continue to experience chronically high levels of acculturation stress than more highly educated immigrants over an indefinite period of time. "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: The prevalence of obesity and obesity-related illnesses is higher among Hispanics (Latinos) than other racial and ethnic groups, and rates increase exponentially with the number of years living in the United States. Mounting evidence suggests that the origins of many chronic illnesses among disadvantaged minority groups may lie with cumulative exposure to chronic psychological and physiological stressors through the biobehavioral process of allostatic load (AL). Among immigrant Latinos, acculturation stress may contribute to an increase in AL and thus may be an independent risk factor for the development of obesity and obesogenic illnesses. The purpose of this theoretical article is to present a proposed model of the effects of acculturation stress on AL and obesity among Latino immigrants. Such a model can be useful to guide intervention efforts to decrease obesity among immigrant Latinos by adding education, skill building, and social integration strategies to healthy eating and physical activity to reduce the deleterious impact of acculturation stress.
    Biological Research for Nursing 08/2012; 14(4):364-74. DOI:10.1177/1099800412457017 · 1.43 Impact Factor
  • Source
    • "We highlight this process because research suggests that overexposure to stress hormones may be sufficient to disrupt or even damage the hippocampus, a region of the brain that regulates memory, orientation, and, by extension, the rate of cognitive decline (McEwen, 2002; McEwen & Sapolsky, 1995). Although studies show that acculturation is associated with increased allostatic load in the Mexican American population (Kaestner et al., 2009; Peek et al., 2010), it is unclear whether this pattern is more pronounced among immigrant women. While stress may be a viable explanation for gender variations in the healthy immigrant effect, we are unable to examine this process in the current study. "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Although some research suggests that the healthy immigrant effect extends to cognitive functioning, it is unclear whether this general pattern varies according to gender. We use six waves of data collected from the original cohort of the Hispanic Established Populations for the Epidemiologic Study of the Elderly to estimate a series of linear growth curve models to assess variations in cognitive functioning trajectories by nativity status and age at migration to the U.S.A. among women and men. Our results show, among women and men, no differences in baseline cognitive status (intercepts) between early- (before age 20) and late-life (50 and older) immigrants and U.S.-born individuals of Mexican-origin. We also find, among women and men, that middle-life (between the ages of 20 and 49) immigrants tend to exhibit higher levels of baseline cognitive functioning than the U.S.-born. Our growth curve analyses suggest that the cognitive functioning trajectories (slopes) of women do not vary according to nativity status and age at migration. The cognitive functioning trajectories of early- and late-life immigrant men are also similar to those of U.S.-born men; however, those men who migrated in middle-life tend to exhibit slower rates of cognitive decline. A statistically significant interaction term suggests that the pattern for middle-life migration is more pronounced for men (or attenuated for women). In other words, although women and men who migrated in middle-life exhibit higher levels of baseline cognitive functioning, immigrant men tend to maintain this advantage for a longer period of time. Taken together, these patterns confirm that gender is an important conditioning factor in the association between immigrant status and cognitive functioning.
    Social Science [?] Medicine 05/2012; 75(12). DOI:10.1016/j.socscimed.2012.04.005 · 2.89 Impact Factor
  • Source
    • "Our analysis included non-Hispanic Whites, non-Hispanic Blacks and individuals of Mexican origin. For individuals of Mexican origin, we distinguish between " foreign-born " and " US-born " (Crimmins et al., 2007; Kaestner et al., 2009; Peek et al., 2009b). "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Stressors are theorized to be associated with higher allostatic load (AL), a concept of physiological wear measured as a composite of physical biomarkers. Risk of high AL may vary by gender and may be intensified in places with significant environmental risks, otherwise known as 'environmental riskscapes'. Yet, no study has examined the relationship between stressors, gender, and allostatic load in an environmental riskscape. Using primary data collected in a sample (N=1072) exposed to various environmental and social stressors, we find that long-term residence in Texas City (30 or more years), residential proximity to petrochemical plants, perceived poor neighborhood conditions, and daily hassles are associated with higher allostatic load components. Variation in AL differs by gender and the types of biomarkers examined. Gender moderates the effect of length of residence in Texas City on cardiovascular health risk. We discuss our findings in light of current research on stressors, gender, allostatic load, and double jeopardy within environmental riskscapes.
    Health & Place 07/2011; 17(4):978-87. DOI:10.1016/j.healthplace.2011.03.009 · 2.81 Impact Factor
Show more