Ethnic disparities in objectively measured physical activity may be due to occupational activity

Jennifer L. Gay, David M. Buchner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objectives: We examined whether Mexican American adults report occupations that involve higher levels of objectively assessed physical activity compared with Non-Hispanic White and Black adults, and if the differences were independent of income. Methods: Data from the 2003-2004 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES; N. = 2707) were analyzed in 2012-2013. An existing classification scheme was used to classify self-reported occupation as sedentary, low-active, or moderately active. From NHANES accelerometer data, proportion of wear time was stratified by intensity. Results: A dose-response relationship was found such that workers in more active occupations spent more time in light-intensity activity and less time engaged in sedentary activities. The findings did not suggest a compensation effect for moderate-to-vigorous intensity physical activity. Mexican American adults engaged in more activity than Non-Hispanic Black or White adults for incomes between $10,000 and $64,999. Conclusions: Mexican American adults may have higher total physical activity levels in NHANES because of occupational activity, particularly among lower income households. To the extent that light-intensity activity may provide health benefits, occupational activity may partly explain the Hispanic paradox.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)58-62
Number of pages5
JournalPreventive Medicine
StatePublished - 2014


  • Accelerometer
  • Exercise
  • Health disparities
  • Mexican-American

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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