Diabetes Risk in Older Mexican Americans: Effects of Language Acculturation, Generation and Socioeconomic Status

Aimee Afable-Munsuz, Steven E. Gregorich, Kyriakos S. Markides, Eliseo J. Pérez-Stable

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14 Scopus citations


The effect of language acculturation, socioeconomic status (SES), and immigrant generation on development of diabetes among Mexican Americans was evaluated in the Hispanic Established Population for the Epidemiologic Study of the Elderly (HEPESE). HEPESE is a longitudinal cohort study of 3,050 non-institutionalized Mexican Americans aged 65 years at baseline (1993-1994) from 5 Southwestern states. Diabetes incidence was ascertained in 4 follow-up surveys to 2004-05 by respondent self-reported physician-diagnosis of diabetes, high blood glucose, or sugar in the urine. Language of interview, immigrant generation, gender, age, education, family history of diabetes, smoking status, alcohol use, health insurance type and self-reported height and weight were assessed. High socioeconomic status (SES) was defined by high school graduation and non-Medicaid insurance. Cox's proportional hazards models were fit to evaluate the effects of language acculturation, generation and SES on incident diabetes. 845 of 3,050 (27.7 %) Mexican Americans had diabetes at baseline and were younger, more educated, and more likely to have health insurance than those without diabetes. Risk of developing diabetes increased for Spanish-speaking respondents with low SES from 1st to 3rd generation (HR = 1.76, 95 % CI = 1.02-3.03) and from 2nd to 3rd generation (HR = 2.15, 95 % CI = 1.20-3.84). Among English-speaking, high SES participants, generation had a protective effect on developing diabetes: HR = 0.45 (95 % CI = 0.22-0.91) when comparing 3rd versus 1st generation. The effect of language acculturation and immigrant generation on incident diabetes is moderated by SES status in HEPESE participants.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)359-373
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Cross-Cultural Gerontology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2013


  • Acculturation
  • Diabetes
  • Mexican Americans

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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