248374 Obesity Among Mexican American Women: A binational US-Mexico Perspective

Monday, October 31, 2011: 3:24 PM

Sylvia Guendelman, PhD, LCSW , School of Public Health, University of Carlifornia Berkeley, Berkeley, CA
Previous studies have shown that in the United States (US), Mexican immigrant status is associated with decreased obesity whereas increased acculturation is linked to increased body size. Yet this evidence has been hampered by the lack of a comparison group of the source population in Mexico. In this session we discuss findings from our study of two linked nationally representative datasets of women of Mexican origin residing in the US and in Mexico. Methods: We draw on actual and perceived body weight data from 855 adult women ages 20-59 who participated in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (waves 2001-2006) and 9,527 women of the same age who were part of Mexico's National Health and Nutrition Survey (2006). Specific results: In multivariate regression analyses, after adjusting for age and education, BMI among Mexican immigrant women was lower compared to the BMI of women living in Mexico and US-born Mexican Americans. However, Mexican immigrants and Mexican Americans were significantly more likely to have a BMI≥30 compared to women in Mexico. In analyses restricted to overweight and obese women, Mexican immigrants were less likely to underestimate their body size compared to their counterparts in Mexico, but significantly more likely to do so compared to Mexican Americans. Discussion: Mexico has undergone enormous increases in obesity in recent years, but women still tend to inaccurately perceive their weight as “normal”. These conditions may help to explain why immigrant status no longer confers protection against obesity among women of Mexican origin.

Learning Areas:
Assessment of individual and community needs for health education
Diversity and culture
Public health or related education
Public health or related research
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Participants in the session will acquire through attendance and participation a new perspective on the obesity epidemic and its impact on women of Mexican origin residing in the United States. Participants will be able to identify differences in actual and perceived weight among women residing in Mexico, Mexican immigrant women in the US, and US-born Mexican American women. Participants will develop a deeper understanding of the influence of the obesity epidemic in Mexico on that of the US.

Keywords: Obesity, Immigrant Women

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am qualified because I oversee research projects on factors influencing maternal and child health binationally, including obesity; the relationship between stress, antenatal leave, and birth outcomes among working women; and examining access to health care for the children of working poor families and social disparities in maternal morbidities during labor and delivery.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.