A Gene-Acculturation Study of Obesity Among US Hispanic/Latinos: The Hispanic Community Health Study/Study of Latinos

Lindsay Fernández-Rhodes, Cristin E McArdle, Hridya Rao, Yujie Wang, Erline E Martinez-Miller, Julia B Ward, Jianwen Cai, Tamar Sofer, Carmen R Isasi, Kari E North

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


OBJECTIVE: In the United States, Hispanic/Latino adults face a high burden of obesity; yet, not all individuals are equally affected, partly due in part to this ethnic group's marked sociocultural diversity. We sought to analyze the modification of body mass index (BMI) genetic effects in Hispanic/Latino adults by their level of acculturation, a complex biosocial phenomenon that remains understudied.

METHODS: Among 11,747 Hispanic/Latinos adults in the Hispanic Community Health Study/Study of Latinos aged 18 to 76 years from four urban communities (2008-2011), we a) tested our hypothesis that the effect of a genetic risk score (GRS) for increased BMI may be exacerbated by higher levels of acculturation and b) examined if GRS acculturation interactions varied by gender or Hispanic/Latino background group. All genetic modeling controlled for relatedness, age, gender, principal components of ancestry, center, and complex study design within a generalized estimated equation framework.

RESULTS: We observed a GRS increase of 0.34 kg/m 2 per risk allele in weighted mean BMI. The estimated main effect of GRS on BMI varied both across acculturation level and across gender. The difference between high and low acculturation ranged from 0.03 to 0.23 kg/m 2 per risk allele, but varied across acculturation measure and gender.

CONCLUSIONS: These results suggest the presence of effect modification by acculturation, with stronger effects on BMI among highly acculturated individuals and female immigrants. Future studies of obesity in the Hispanic/Latino community should account for sociocultural environments and consider their intersection with gender to better target obesity interventions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)358-365
Number of pages8
JournalPsychosomatic medicine
Issue number4
StatePublished - May 1 2023


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