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."

soundoff (25 Responses)
  1. JB

    It won't be possible that people will stop eating at fast food chains, because it is quite cheap compare to restaurant.
    Two solutions:
    1) Impose healthy option on Fast food chains ( less saturate fat, less carb, more protein, high fibre etc)
    2) Despite hactic schedule, try to prepeare atleast 4-5 times at home. When we say prepare mean NO frozen food, NO tins
    Instead of waiting on drive-through to pick up some burger, why can't you just prepare some egg omlet, scambled egg without yolk. It won't take more than 10-mins

    March 29, 2012 at 09:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. City On a Shining Hill

    The key to a healthy weight throughout life is to eat only a low fat, low carbohydrate diet (no chips, soda, fries, bread, etc) with plenty of beans, nuts, fruits and veggies, and salads, plus lean poultry and fish. Non-fat diary is ok, in small amounts. Foods should only be in their natural forms, with minimal processing.

    The problem is discipline that is lacking to the mother staying at home, avoiding take out and making healthy foods from scratch, as our grandparents did. Remember when she canned fruits? Those days are long gone.

    And, let's not get upset if health care costs balloon for all the new diabetes, cancer, heart disease and stroke care from eating "easy", and not exercising daily. At the rate we are going as a nation, by 2030, health care costs will consume 40% of our GDP.

    That will be economic nirvana!!

    March 29, 2012 at 14:52 | Report abuse | Reply
    • lulu

      So the whole problem is that women are working away from the home? please...out dated and WRONG!

      It's lack of education and poverty that is causing obesity. Fast, prepared foods are cheaper and more readily available than fresh fruits and vegetables. Foods with longer shelf lives are less expensive, yet much less healthy than fresh meats and produce.

      Get over your "women belong in the home" self....

      March 29, 2012 at 15:40 | Report abuse |
  3. Ron

    Its the food they eat! Going out to eat AND the food they eat at home is unhealthy. The rate is climbing for all groups because we want to enjoy life in the now and not the future. Go to the gym, walk around the neighborhood, get your lazy buts out of the house.

    March 30, 2012 at 09:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. richard

    drink more single malt scotch.

    March 30, 2012 at 15:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Venus

    As an advocate and instructor, I have seen how our Latinos have had to work double shifts to make ends meet and just don't have time to make healthy freshly-cooked meals. The comments made never signaled out the women, since the problem with obesity hits both genders. But it is a serious one and I'm trying to address this challenge with the training of Promotores/Community Health Worker, focusing on diet, nutrition and exercise (ZUMBA), where these trusted members of the community are sharing their knowledge and empowering others to make positive changes in their lifestyle. Now we are embarking on a Teen Promotores/Community Health Workers so they will have an opportunity early on to make these choices.

    March 30, 2012 at 19:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. City On a Shining Hill


    No, its not a matter of women not staying at home, or poverty or lack of education. It is tastebuds. Junk food does have greater appeal than broccoli and brown rice.

    But, all nutritionists agree that junk food does not help keep the weight down, due to empty calories. We must have enough fiber, too, and only fresh veggies and fruits have adequate fiber to keep regular and prevent many cancers.

    Blaming lack of education or poverty is not a good excuse for the fact that half of all Americans are now considered obese.

    Lack of discipline is more to blame. See the movies "Supersize Me" and "Fast Food Nation".

    By the way, a bag of potato chips costs about $4.00. A small bag of brown rice is around $2.

    Do the math.

    April 2, 2012 at 18:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. pearl

    I've thought about this often as an American married to a Mexican living in southern Mexico fully surrounded in the culture all the time. I think it is due to the lifestyle that has been changing slowly over the past fifty years, both in the US AND Mexico. In Mexico they have equal amounts of "fast – food" places i.e. puestos or stands where you can buy a cheap and extremely greasy (and yummy) taco or torta, etc., where they then eat standing up really quickly and rush back to work. Grease – or oil- is a HUGE part of the diet in Mexico as well – more than in the US I would say. In the US they have troubles with the same lack of time but a different sort of fast food, so it's not that they are all eating healthy and nicely prepared foods at home in Mexico (actually, in general a nice prepared meal at home in Mexico will either be fried or refried which I will be the first to mention how delish it is:). Just sayin', this is a rising problem in many countries that I think is mostly due to the rising American influence.

    April 3, 2012 at 07:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Roland

    Well for a foreigner visiting the US it's quite clear what is causing the obesity.The portions you buy in the supermarket are much bigger.You buy a bag of chips in the US it's the size of a pillow case in the rest of the world it's more like half/quarter the size.I once ordered a steak and fries in the US and i got enough for three people.That was one portion so people lose all sense of how much they should/can eat couple that with how in fast food restaurants they encourage people to buy super sized portions + how healthy food is more expensive then unhealthy food and you got a obesity problem of epic proportions.And the healthcare costs of that are just incredible.People also forget what obesity is.It's not what you see in the picture here that is being "morbidly obese" that is life threatening today and now,but the other obesity such as a beer belly does you in at older age where you get diabetes and other problems. It's not just the people who can no longer walk that are risking their health.

    April 3, 2012 at 12:49 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Mike

      I hate these blanket snmteaetts thrown out there by the media. There's many types of working moms, and many different factors to the working mom situation. Can we truly compare the children who live in the city with less access to grocery stores to children who live in the suburb? This comment, actually, is too small for the depth this discussion requires!

      May 23, 2012 at 21:38 | Report abuse |
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