A University of South Carolina study shows that Mexican-American youth gain pounds as they move away from the dietary habits of their native country, a move that is putting them at risk for serious health problems.
According to the research, conducted by a team in the Arnold School of Public Health and published in the February issue of the Journal of Nutrition, Mexican-American youth born into second- and third-generation families are more likely to be obese than those who were not born in the United States.
“Mexican-American children are disproportionately affected by obesity,” said Dr. Jihong Liu, the lead author of the paper. “This has serious public health consequences because Mexican Americans are the fastest growing segment of the population. They are a very important population to study.”
Few studies have examined the impact of both immigration and a child’s acculturation on obesity, she said. “Most are focused on adults, who are at increased risk for obesity with each generation.”
Second-generation Mexican Americans were 2.5 times as likely to be obese as their first-generation peers; third-generation Mexican Americans were two times more likely to be obese.