Arizona State University College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
Chicana and Chicano StudiesLatino Health Issues

Why is Obesity Important for Latinos?


The Latino community has a much greater rate of obesity than the population in general. According to a survey conducted by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) from 1999-2000, 34.4% of Mexican American adults were obese and about 14% of Mexican American adolescents were overweight. Unfortunately, there is no similar data for the Latino community at large.

Acculturation into the United States is partially responsible for the increase in obesity of Latinos. This is shown by the increased likelihood for Latino children born in the U.S. by immigrant parents to be obese. They are more than twice as likely to become overweight than foreign-born Latinos who move to the U.S. Once Latinos arrive in the U.S., they tend to eat more fried foods, and less fruit. They also tend to eat more meat, and a less varied diet than the average American. In addition, upon acculturation into the U.S., Latinos are less active and take part in less exercise, and more sedentary activities like watching television and playing video games.

Socioeconomic status is another factor that adds to obesity among Latinos. 27% of Latinos in the U.S. live below the poverty level. The cost of food, especially healthy food is expensive. Cheaper food, like fast food, tends to be more fattening, but could be more appealing to Latinos. Due to the low socioeconomic status of Latinos, some are forced to eat fast food frequently because of cost, and others because of lack of time for preparing meals.

While there are many factors that go into the high rates of obesity in the Latino community, none of them are too tough to overcome. With the proper information and increased attention to healthy habits, the fight against obesity can be won.

family eating at McDonald's

Accessibility | Privacy | ASU Disclaimer This site was created by Dan Abrams in fulfillment of requirements for the course CSS 335: Latino Health Issues taught by Dr. Szkupinski Quiroga at Arizona State University, Spring 2007.