Obesity among Hispanic Americans

It's no secret obesity trends in the U.S. have been soaring for many years now reaching epidemic proportions.…

Obesity among Hispanic Americans
Foto: Photo by Tobyotter via CCL

It’s no secret obesity trends in the U.S. have been soaring for many years now reaching epidemic proportions. It seems our diets full of processed foods high in fat and sugars along with our lack of exercise knows no limits. Accordingly, rates among Hispanic Americans and, more specifically, Mexican Americans has also reached unsettling levels. Recently it was determined by the Office of Minority Health or OMH that between 2007 and 2010 a startling 78% of Mexican American women were overweight or obese. This statistic is disturbing enough. But when you consider the rate among non-Hispanic white women was 60.3%, it gives us cause for pause as to what the heck is going on. We’re all aware of the very real health risks involved with being overweight or obese, so what gives?

When it comes to weight, we’ve always been blessed by the fact Latin men prefer their women with a bit more meat on their bones. That’s a given, and most of us are pretty happy about it. It keeps us from having to maintain unrealistic body images and ensures better health during our child bearing years. But this coupled with our genetics can’t be the only thing at play here with our recent weight gains. Sure, hereditary factors play a huge role in our statures and physical outcome, but this cannot begin to explain away the fact that we’re gradually heading towards morbid obesity, a state of being that is extremely unhealthy for all of us. What are we doing differently?

Identifying what’s behind this extremely disturbing trend bears further investigation, and pinpointing what it is we are each doing in our daily lives that’s apparently contributing to our unreasonable weight gain needs to be addressed immediately if we’re going to beat obesity and remain healthy. It appears we’re falling drastically behind when it comes to healthier lifestyle choices by leading idler lives and consuming more foods higher in fats and cholesterols than our non-Hispanic counterparts. Simply stated, fewer Hispanic women are choosing healthier foods, putting down the fork and pushing away the plate, and getting out and exercising. Sadly, in 2010 adult Hispanics were 40% less inclined to partake in forms of healthy physical activity as non-Hispanic whites, and this has got to change if we’re not only going to survive, but ultimately thrive.

The health impacts of obesity for men, women, and children are varied, and obviously none of them are good. Overweight individuals are far more likely to suffer from elevated blood pressure, blood fats, and LDL cholesterol levels, which are all high risk factors for stroke and heart disease. In addition, risks for diabetes begin to escalate in direct correlation to our weight gain. Diabetes isn’t just an inconvenience. It is a serious medical condition with serious consequences the likes most of us don’t even want to know about much less suffer from.

Unfortunately, Mexican American and Hispanic American children are fairing no better than their parents when it comes to the statistical differences between them and non-Hispanic white children who suffer from weight and obesity problems. So, what are we doing to our children or, better yet, what are we doing for our children? Teaching children healthy lifestyles at an early age by encouraging proper nutrition choices and getting them to engage in daily physical activity is our only hope for our kids. We owe them more than a legacy of a lifetime of ill health. We owe them a full life with healthy parents there to guide them and love them.