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Hispanics' attitudes about diet, health differ based on country of birth

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Hispanic consumers in the United States display differing attitudes toward health and diet depending on their country of birth, according to a new NOP World Hispanic OmniTel survey.

In general, the 6 in 10 Hispanics who are foreign-born tend to be focused on nutrition and food ingredients, while U.S.-born Hispanics tend to worry about lifestyle factors such as smoking and stress.

The study also finds that the attitudes of U.S.-born Hispanics more closely resemble those of the general U.S. population which tends to focus more on lifestyle than on diet and food ingredients such as cholesterol, salt, and fat.

"As marketers of food and health products services seek to capitalize on the rapidly growing Hispanic market in the United States, they are faced with the challenge of responding to a very diverse set of attitudes among the 38 million Americans of Hispanic origin," said Brad Fay, Managing Director of NOP World Consumer.

"Major differences can be found based on country of origin, language skills, and degree of acculturation. The study shows why it is so important for marketers to carefully research the attitudes, needs, and concerns of Hispanic Americans."

While nearly half of foreign-born Hispanics view fat (46%), cholesterol (46%), and salt (42%) as harmful in any amount, only about a third of their U.S.-born counterparts (30%, 38%, and 28%) share this view. Americans in general are even less distressed by the affects of potentially harmful ingredients (21%, 27%, and 23%).

Lifestyle choices, on the other hand, are more the focus of average Americans' efforts to improve health, and the same is true of U.S.-born Hispanics.

While many Hispanic immigrants deem smoking (69%), stress (57%) and poor weight control (52%) as harmful in any amount, these factors emerge as even more important among U.S. born Hispanics (84%, 67%, and 59%) as well as among Americans in general (78%, 51%, and 52%) in comparison to health and diet fears.

Income plays another role in understanding differences within Hispanic cultures. While there is little divergence in opinion among general Americans of varying incomes, Hispanics cast a different story.

Lower-income Hispanics demonstrate a far greater concern over nutrition and diet than higher-income Hispanics. The also study shows disparities regarding life style, with higher-income Hispanics more focused on life style concerns.

Compared to their male counterparts, both Hispanic and American women tend to be slightly more worried about harm resulting from certain ingredients and lifestyles.

Stress, in particular, is considered significantly more harmful by Hispanic women than by Hispanic men. (67% vs. 58%). American women are most concerned about second-hand smoke considering it harmful in any amount. This concern about the harmful effects of second-hand smoke is far greater among American women (69%) than it is among American men (57%).

This information is based on NOP World's new Hispanic OmniTel survey, conducted in April 2004 among 500 Hispanic adults nationwide via random digit-dial interviews. Hispanic OmniTel is a new telephone omnibus service that represents 90% of the U.S. Hispanic market, with a +/-4.5% margin of error. This article was prepared by Biotech Law Weekly editors from staff and other reports. Copyright 2004, Biotech Law Weekly via

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