With the United States’ Hispanic population growing in number, it is becoming increasingly important to focus on the health and well-being of that community. Obesity is an epidemic concerning all Americans, but it is an especially concerning one for Hispanics and Mexican Americans who collectively have an obesity rate of about 40%, according to the CDC.
This high rate can be attributed to many factors. Several studies have shown the strong correlation between poverty and obesity. The CDC Health Disparities and Inequalities Report for 2011 found that the greatest racial/ethnic disparity in income and education existed for Hispanics. That there is a higher likelihood for obesity in a lower income situation can be found in both men and women.
However, adults are not the only members of the Hispanic and Mexican-American populations with significantly higher obesity rates. The rate in children is alarmingly high as well – about 23 percent of Hispanic children compared to the 16 percent rating of their Non-Hispanic white counterparts. Reducing obesity in children is particularly important as being overweight at a young age can lead to a litany of health issues.
That is not to say that just because Hispanics and Mexican-Americans have higher obesity rates that they are inherently unhealthy. A study by Lycotec, a biotech company, revealed technology modeling what could be behind the “Hispanic Paradox.” The paradox is that while obesity is a major risk factor in the development of heart problems and strokes, the Hispanic population as a whole has significantly lower prevalence and mortality from cardio-based diseases. It is theorized that this could be because tomatoes are a staple in Hispanic cooking. Lycopene, found in the tomatoes, essentially protects the health-valuable content of the foods it is being cooked with and more of the nutrients are absorbed by the body.
It is also interesting to note that of the five states with the highest number Hispanics and Mexican-Americans (New Mexico, Texas, California, Arizona, and Nevada) California ranks as one of the least obese states overall. Colorado, ranking seventh for Hispanic and Mexican-American population, is the least obese state in the country. Not one of the states with the highest number of Hispanic and Mexican-American people ranked in the ten most obese.