Obesity Amongst Mexican Children: Are First Generation Mexican Children More Prone to Obesity Than Their Second Generation Counterparts?

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OBESITY AMONGST MEXICAN CHILDREN: ARE FIRST GENERATION MEXICAN CHILDREN 1 MORE PRONE TO OBESITY THAN THEIR SECOND GENERATION COUNTERPARTS?

OBESITY AMONGST MEXICAN CHILDREN: ARE FIRST GENERATION MEXICAN CHILDREN MORE PRONE TO OBESITY THAN THEIR SECOND GENERATION COUNTERPARTS?

OBESITY AMONGST MEXICAN CHILDREN: ARE FIRST GENERATION MEXICAN CHILDREN 2 MORE PRONE TO OBESITY THAN THEIR SECOND GENERATION COUNTERPARTS?

Abstract: The prevalence of overweight children in the United States of Mexican descent is higher for second generation than their first generation counterparts. First generation immigrants tend to keep a healthier lifestyle by consuming more fresh fruits and vegetables, walking longer distances and smoking less than the more acculturated Mexican-Americans. Acculturation is a major contributing factor for the alarming rates of obesity within Mexican children. When children of Mexican immigrants are exposed to American society, they develop unhealthy habits such as eating pizza and hot dogs during school lunch hours, access to vending machines, and media exposure where they are constantly bombarded with food related commercials of unhealthy nature. A lower socio-economic status, such as the recently immigrated parents, is also a contributing factor for obesity within Mexican children. High calorie and high fat content foods tend to be less expensive than fresh fruits and fresh vegetables, leading to poorer, unhealthier choices. Fast food chains are prohibitory expensive in Mexico, whereas in the US they are not. As young Mexican children develop their sense of identity while they separate from their parents or caregivers and seek acceptance from their American peers, they integrate themselves into the fast food culture leading to obesity amongst Mexican-American children of second generation in the US.

The incidence of obesity in Mexican adults has increased markedly over the years. Data from the 1993 National Survey of Chronic Diseases (Encuesta Nacional de Enfermedades Crónicas) showed an obesity prevalence of 21.5%. The 2000 National Health Survey (Encuesta Nacional de Salud) indicated that 24% of adults suffered obesity. Data from the 2006 National Health and Nutrition Survey (ENSANUT 2006) revealed that 30% of adults of both sexes were obese. (Rojas,R, Aguilar-Salinas, C., Jimenez, A., Gómez, F., Barquera, S., 2012, p.8) In the last two decades, the prevalence of childhood obesity, defined as at or above the 95th percentile of body mass index (BMI) for age and gender (Center for Disease Control, 2009), has more than doubled among children aged 6–11 years and tripled among adolescents aged 12–19 years, and here is no evidence that this trend is coming to an end (Ogden, 2002). This is a serious public health concern because obese children and adolescents are at an increased risk for various physical, mental, and emotional health problems, including impaired glucose tolerance , insulin resistance, atherosclerosis , coronary heart disease in adulthood , development of eating disorders, and low self-esteem (Seo, D. & Sa, J., 2009). The obesity epidemic disproportionately affects racial/ethnic minority children, who are defined as American Indian, Alaska Native, Asian American, Black, African American, Hispanic, Latino, Native Hawaiian, or OBESITY AMONGST MEXICAN CHILDREN: ARE FIRST GENERATION MEXICAN CHILDREN 3 MORE PRONE TO OBESITY THAN THEIR SECOND GENERATION COUNTERPARTS?

other Pacific Islander (CDC, 2009). According to estimates based on the 2001–2002 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), among children aged 6–19 years, 22.2% of Mexican American children and 20.5% of non-Hispanic Blacks were obese as compared with only...
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