Obesity in Mexican Americans



Obesity of Mexican Americans and Mexican Immigrants in the U.S. has seen a steady increase in the last twenty years and is especially problematic in children.  The incidence of obesity among this group, particularly in children, is greater than non-Hispanic white and non-Hispanic black populations.  Childhood obesity in this population will more than likely lead to overweight and obese adults that are at much higher risks of chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, colon cancer, and endometrial cancer.  When compared to Mexicans, born and raised in Mexico, the Mexican American and Mexican Immigrants living in the U.S. are between 14-20% more likely to have a BMI at the 85th percentile or above (overweight).  This indicates that there are likely social and geographic determinants affecting these groups, with which I would agree.  I think that diet changes dramatically for immigrant families which may contribute to the increase in this population’s propensity towards obesity.  I also believe there may be a change in lifestyle for immigrants that causes a decrease in physical activity and allows for a much more sedentary lifestyle.  It is also critical to consider the socioeconomic status of these populations since it can be linked to their access (or lack thereof) to healthier options for food.


Although there may be correlations between the culturally constructed ‘races’ and their genetics and health, race is so loosely defined and based on self-identification that it is insignificant to genetics and health.  The BiDil example given in the Race and Medicine Lecture demonstrates just the opposite but this is because the drug was only tested on “Black Patients”.  The conclusion that BiDil was more effective for this group was merely conjecture and since prescription of the drug relies on self-identification for race, anyone could theoretically be prescribed BiDil because there is no biological link between race and genetics.

The link between genetics and health, however, is much stronger.  There is a clear connection shown by the heterozygote advantage for sickle cell anemia in populations battling malaria.  The connection also exists for homozygous sickle cell anemia and homozygous non sickle cell with both groups at risk for problems with sickle cells and malaria, respectively.


Hernández-Valero, María A., L. Patricia Bustamante-Montes, and Mike Hernández. “Higher Risk for Obesity Among Mexican–American and Mexican Immigrant Children and Adolescents than Among Peers in Mexico.” Journal of Immigrant and Minority Health. no. 4 (2012): 517-522.

Acosta, David, and Allison Porter. University of Washington, “Morbidity and Mortality by Age Group.” Accessed July 11, 2013. http://faculty.washington.edu/dacosta/HHP/module10/mm.html.

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