Obesity rate climbs for Mexican-Americans, study says
March 28th, 2012
03:56 PM ET

Obesity rate climbs for Mexican-Americans, study says

Hispanics are one of the fastest growing ethnic groups in the United States.  By the year 2050, the U.S. Census Bureau projects Hispanics will compose 30 percent of the population.  Most are Mexican-American.  A new government study drills down on the changing way Mexican-Americans adults are eating and its effect on their health.

Researchers at the National Center for Health Statistics compared statistics from 1982-1984 and 1999-2006.

Among the findings:

  • Obesity is up.  In the early 1980s 21% of Mexican Americans were obese.  By the middle of the last decade, the number had climbed to close to 35%.
  • More Mexican-Americans also have diabetes.  Close to 14% have it now - versus just under 10% 25 years ago.
  • The group's consumption of carbs is also up from just under 46% in the 1980s to just over 51%.
  • Mexican-Americans are also not eating as much protein as they once did, though those numbers are just slightly different.

The findings are similar to previous studies of the general population.

Venus Gines isn't surprised by the increase in obesity and diabetes. When CNN caught up with her, Gines was on her way to talk with a group about diabetes in the Latino community.    She's the founder and CEO of Dia de la Mujer Latina, an organization that educates and advocates for Latino health care concerns.  "We know it as the Latino paradox," says Gines.  People immigrate to America to find greater opportunity.  But often, says Gines "They come into this country and adopt some of the bad habits ... especially eating habits."

Like other Americans, Mexican-Americans get sucked into our fast food culture, says Gines.  "Here it's all fast pace ... people find themselves working double shifts and they don't cook."

So what can be done to change this trend?  Gines believes the key is investing in the future.  "It's the children who will get the message out to their parents."

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