Hispanic children in US at greater risk for obesity than other ethnic/racial groups

Jun 01, 2009

The prevalence of overweight in the US population is among the highest in Mexican-American children and adolescents. In a study of 1,030 Hispanic children between the ages of 4 and 19, published in the June 2009 issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, researchers from the Baylor College of Medicine found less than optimal diets in both overweight and non-overweight participants.

According to the National Health and Examination Surveys (NHANES), in 2005-2006 the prevalence of overweight among children (2-19 years) from all ethnic/racial groups was 15.5%. For Mexican-American males and females (2-19 years) the prevalence was 23.2% and 18.5%, respectively. Although the US environment encourages a sedentary lifestyle and excess food intake, the Hispanic population is burdened with additional risk factors for including parental obesity, low socioeconomic status (SES), recent immigration, acculturation to US diet and lifestyle, and limited health insurance coverage.

The VIVA LA FAMILIA Study was designed to identify genetic and environmental factors contributing to childhood obesity in the Hispanic population. It provided the novel opportunity to assess the diet of a large cohort of Hispanic children from low-SES families at high risk for obesity (1,030 children from 319 families in Houston, Texas). On average, 91% of parents were overweight or obese and parental income and education levels were low. Food insecurity was reported by 49% of households.

Writing in the article, Nancy F. Butte, PhD, Professor, USDA/ARS Children's Nutrition Research Center, Department of Pediatrics, Baylor College of Medicine, states, "The diets of these low-SES Hispanic children were adequate in most essential nutrients, but suboptimal for the promotion of long-term health. Diet quality did not satisfy US dietary guidelines for fat, cholesterol, saturated fatty acids, fiber, added sugar, and sodium. Although energy intake was higher in , food sources, diet quality, and macro- and micronutrient composition were similar between non-overweight and overweight siblings...Knowledge of the dietary intake of children from low-SES Hispanic families at high risk for obesity will provide a basis on which to build nutritional interventions and policy that are appropriately tailored to population sub-groups."

In a commentary published in the same issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, Rafael Pérez-Escamilla, PhD, Professor of Nutritional Sciences & Public Health, Director, NIH EXPORT Center for Eliminating, Health Disparities among Latinos (CEHDL), University of Connecticut, Storrs, asks whether the process of acculturation into "mainstream" US society is having negative effects on Hispanics. Citing numerous studies, he explores many of the factors that both support and contradict the assimilation argument, and concludes that while acculturation is likely a negative influence, further study is warranted. He writes, "However, we still need to elucidate the mechanisms and the extent to which acculturation to the USA 'mainstream' culture per se explain deterioration in dietary quality, and increased risks for obesity and associated chronic diseases among Latinos. Filling in this gap in knowledge is essential for developing culturally appropriate and behavioral change based interventions targeting Latinos with different levels of acculturation."

More information: The article is "Nutrient adequacy and diet quality in non-overweight and overweight Hispanic children of low socioeconomic status - the VIVA LA FAMILIA Study" by Theresa A. Wilson, MS, RD, Anne L. Adolph, BS, and Nancy F. Butte, PhD. The commentary is "Dietary quality among Latinos: Is acculturation making us sick?" by Rafael Pérez-Escamilla, PhD. Both appear in the , Volume 109, Issue 6 (June 2009) published by Elsevier.

Source: Elsevier Health Sciences

Explore further: Federal food program puts food on the table, but dietary quality could be improved

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Obesity rates continue to climb in the United States

Jul 10, 2007

The U.S. obesity prevalence increased from 13 percent to 32 percent between the 1960s and 2004, according to researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health Center for Human Nutrition.

Obesity highest in children from lower income areas

Sep 15, 2008

(PhysOrg.com) -- School children from lower socioeconomic areas are one-and-a-half times more likely to be overweight or obese compared with children living in wealthier areas, a new study has found.

Examining obesity: What should we eat?

Jul 24, 2007

By reviewing thousands of research reports, UC scientists were able to pin down four factors that are most likely to cause overweight and obesity in America: the consumption of dietary fat, sweetened beverages and restaurant ...

Overweight kids have fewer cavities, new study shows

Apr 02, 2008

Contrary to conventional wisdom, overweight children have fewer cavities and healthier teeth compared to their normal weight peers, according to a study published in this month’s issue of Community Dentistry & Oral Epidemiology.

Recommended for you

We drink more alcohol on gym days

9 hours ago

A new Northwestern Medicine study finds that on days when people exercise more—typically Thursdays to Sundays—they drink more alcohol, too.

Obesity and stress pack a double hit for health

15 hours ago

If you're overweight, you may be at greater risk for stress-related diseases like type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer, according to a new study by Brandeis University.

User comments : 0