Socioeconomic status (SES) and acculturation are potential contributors of adolescent physical activity disparity among ethnic groups in the U.S. However, studies relying on self-report physical activity measures have reported inconsistent findings regarding sociocultural predictors of physical activity. Therefore, the current study examined the main and interactive effects of SES and acculturation on accelerometer-measured moderate-to-vigorous intensity physical activity (MVPA) among Mexican American adolescents.
The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2003–2004 was analyzed. Samples of 153 and 169 Mexican American boys and girls, respectively, were analyzed. SES was indicated by poverty-to-income ratio (PIR); and acculturation was measured by 5-item English preference scales and adolescent and parental country of birth. Regression models were tested separately for boys and girls.
U.S.-born boys compared with immigrants did more MVPA (β = .48, P < .01). On the contrary, the effect of English preference on MVPA in boys was negative (β = –.05, P < .01) and amplified by higher SES (β = –.02, P < .01). For girls, none of the tested variables were significant.
Higher SES was a risk factor for physical inactivity in Mexican American adolescents, by a moderating mechanism. In addition, physical activity promotion efforts need to consider English speaking and immigrant Mexican American adolescent boys as a target population.