The Relationship of Eating Attitudes and High Risk Behaviors in Hispanic Men who have Sex with Men

Wednesday, 15 July 2009: 1:45 PM

Joseph P. De Santis, PhD, ARNP, ACRN
School of Nursing & Health Studies, University of Miami, Coral Gables, FL
Guillermo J. Prado, PhD
Epidemiology and Public Health Miller School of Medicine, University of Miami, Miami, FL
Dennys Martin Layerla, BSN, RN
Department of Neurology, University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, Miami, FL
Susana Barroso, BSN, RN
School of Nursing and Health Studies, University of Miami, Miami, FL
Michael Sanchez, BSN, RN
School of Nursing and Health Studies, University of Miami, Coral Gables, FL

Learning Objective 1: Describe the relationship between eating attitudes and high risk behaviors in Hispanic men who have sex with men.

Learning Objective 2: Discuss implications for nurses and other healthcare providers in providing care for this population of men.


Men who have sex with men (MSM) are disproportionately at risk for HIV/AIDS, depression, and suicide.  Hispanics are additionally at risk for obesity and its negative sequellae.  Thus, the combination of ethnic and sexual minority status renders Hispanic MSM a vulnerable population for multiple negative health outcomes.  The social importance of food and masculinity in Hispanic culture is well-documented, but little is known about the relationship of eating attitudes, mental health and risky behaviors such as alcohol abuse, and unsafe sex in Hispanic MSM.  The purpose of this study was to address this knowledge gap by examining the relationship among this set of health risks behaviors in a community sample of 100  Hispanic MSM.


A descriptive cross-sectional research design was used.  The study’s sample was recruited from the community-dwelling Hispanic MSM who reside in South Florida.


 Nearly one-quarter (23%) of the sample reported suicidal thoughts and 8% attempted suicide.  Over one-half (51%) were overweight or obese, 18% reported alcohol abuse or dependence, and 63%  reported engaging in high risk sexual behavior. Statistically significant relationships were found between problematic eating attitudes and negative body image (r = .402, p < .01), depression, (r = .292, p < .01),  alcohol use (r = .382, p < .01), and high risk sexual behaviors (r = -.256, p < .05). 


The results have implications for healthcare providers and researchers.  Healthcare providers should address psychological health conditions in conjunction with physical health.  Further research is needed to address factors that result in this cluster of health conditions in Hispanic MSM.  Intervention studies developed for this population need to address the shared etiology of the multiple health disparities experienced by members of this population.