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

Why Should Latinos Be Concerned?

What is Obesity?
What Can Obesity Lead to?
What Can We Do?

Latinos should be concerned with this epidemic for the reason that, while overweight and obesity are prevalent in the US., almost 55% of the population is obese.

The Hispanic population ranks second among the highest rates. Over 60% of all Hispanic populations are either overweight or obese. Of the 60% that are overweight, more than half, 52%, are obese. Children 15 and younger rank highest among all obese groups; this stems from the myth that the thicker a child is healthier. That is a myth that can have serious consequences. Some Latino mothers believe the more robust their babies, the healthier they are ĘC a deadly myth that doctors, researchers and public health professionals are trying to dispel with studies, facts and education.

Obesity is linked to health problems from heart disease to diabetes, which includes nerve damage, blindness, kidney failure and stroke. Poverty, poor education and lack of access to health care compound the problem. In addition, 27 percent of Hispanic children are uninsured. 8 percent of European-Americans, more than 50 percent of African-Americans and more than 60 percent of Hispanic-Americans will develop obesity and type 2 diabetes, according to the CDC (Center for Disease Control). The rate of obesity has doubled among Hispanic youth in the last decade, and Hispanic teenagers are twice as likely as their white counterparts to be overweight. This is an urgent problem because obesity also leads to an increase in other chronic diseases, including diabetes and cancer.

Overweight and obesity are major contributors to many preventable causes of death. It is also risk factor for developing high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, heart disease, stroke, gall bladder disease, arthritis, sleep disturbances, breathing problems, and certain types of cancers.

Malnutrition, the inadequate or excessive intake of certain nutrients is persistent among Latinos. Obesity results from an imbalance involving excessive calorie consumption and inadequate physical activity. The intake of certain nutrients such as high fat and high calorie foods can be directed to some of the placement of fast food restaurants. An article written by Greg Critser, titled "Let them Eat Fat", examines how certain fast food joints strategically place restaurants in certain areas and certain communities. Those communities are generally in low income, low wage areas. Because of low prices and affordable menus, people with low income can enjoy their food. These are generally built in Hispanic and African American communities, and this is suspected to be a reason that African Americans and Hispanics rank one and two in highest rates of obesity and related diseases.

Latinos also consume slightly less than four servings of fruits and vegetables per day. Nearly one third of Latinos eat two or fewer servings of fruits and vegetables a day. More than 80% Latinos say that fruits and vegetables are hard to buy in fast food restaurants, while two thirds report that fruits and vegetables are difficult to get at work. Forty percent say that fruits and vegetables are too expensive. While most Latinos have high fiber diets, they also have high fat diets, and what they lack is many fruits and vegetables to balance out the amount of calorie intake.


Accessibility | Privacy | ASU Disclaimer This site was created by Dion Begay in fulfillment of requirements for the course CSS 335: Latino Health Issues taught by Dr. Szkupinski Quiroga at Arizona State University, Spring 2005.