Research looks to combat US Latina immigrant obesity

July 31, 2014

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Latinos are the largest minority group in the United States, comprising 16.7% of the population. Approximately one-third of Latinos are obese and are 1.2 times as likely to be obese compared to non-Hispanic Whites.

NYU College of Nursing student researcher Lauren Gerchow, BSN, RN, MSN candidate, has sought to identify the factors that contribute to this problem by compiling a systematic review of qualitative studies that focused on food patterns in Latina women recently published in Nursing Research.

"The review focuses on women in particular, because they are usually the primary caretakers, with responsibility for food-related decisions," said Gerchow. "We performed this analysis in the hopes of identifying common food patterns across Latino culture and within Latino subcultures, and to inform future research by determining gaps in the existing literature."

Gerchow encountered several disparities in her review of thirteen studies, through which she was able to outline the complexity surrounding this issue and provide recommendations for future research on this topic.

"A particularly troubling discrepancy found was that the definition of Latino varied considerably between studies, with four even considering Latinos a single ethnic group with no cultural differentiation for analytical purposes," noted Gerchow. "We found that these purportedly qualitative studies, of which findings are not supposed to be generalizable, were consistently reporting ways their findings could be generalized across Latino populations."

Gerchow and her team found that despite researchers and providers acknowledging the importance of cultural differences based on country of origin in this population, there was no change in practice or methods of the studies. Contributing to the need for specification is the fact that food words vary between countries, therefore Latinos may be unable to rely on each other for proper translation when it comes to making informed, healthy decisions.

The immigrant experience pervades every aspect of an immigrant Latina's life," said Gerchow, and ultimately influences the dynamics that become barriers and facilitators to healthy food choices. Such barriers include changes in routines and circumstances such as snacking, the availability of fast food, and the cost of healthy foods. Furthermore, socioeconomic status, lack of transportation, and a lack of nutritional knowledge and education, were all found to be barriers to patterns."

Gerchow's study is the first of its kind to address the qualitative literature regarding the food patterns of Latinas living in the United States. The results of her analysis indicate that healthcare providers need to recognize the complex influences behind eating behaviors among immigrant Latinas in order to design effective behavior change and goal-setting programs to support healthy lifestyles." In order for such a level of recognition to be achieved it is imperative that future studies limit overgeneralization in this population.

"Our study identifies some of the unique similarities in Latina behavior patterns among the diverse ethnic group while encouraging future studies to limit overgeneralization in this population and identifying gaps in the literature, which future research can begin to investigate," Gerchow concludes.

Explore further: Alcohol-programming outreach is especially important for female Black and Latina drinkers

Related Stories

Alcohol-programming outreach is especially important for female Black and Latina drinkers

July 17, 2014
Very few national studies have examined racial/ethnic disparities in the use of alcohol services. In addition, little is known about whether racial/ethnic disparities generalize across genders, and what factors may account ...

Researchers tackle racial/ethnic disparities in HIV medical studies

July 7, 2014
A New York University College of Nursing (NYUCN) research team found that a social/behavioral intervention vastly increased the number of African American and Latino individuals living with HIV/AIDS who enrolled in HIV/AIDS ...

Parents' reported food preparation time is inversely associated with energy density

July 30, 2014
Research to be presented at the Annual Meeting of the Society for the Study of Ingestive Behavior (SSIB), the foremost society for research into all aspects of eating and drinking behavior, suggests that the amount time parents ...

Recommended for you

Dog walking could be key to ensuring activity in later life

July 24, 2017
A new study has shown that regularly walking a dog boosts levels of physical activity in older people, especially during the winter.

Alcohol to claim 63,000 lives over next five years, experts warn

July 24, 2017
Alcohol consumption will cause 63,000 deaths in England over the next five years – the equivalent of 35 deaths a day – according to a new report from the University of Sheffield Alcohol Research Group.

App lets patients work alone or with others to prevent, monitor, and reverse chronic disease

July 24, 2017
Lack of patient adherence to treatment plans is a lingering, costly problem in the United States. But MIT Media Lab spinout Twine Health is proving that regular interventions from a patient's community of supporters can greatly ...

Alcohol boosts recall of earlier learning

July 24, 2017
Drinking alcohol improves memory for information learned before the drinking episode began, new research suggests.

To combat teen smoking, health experts recommend R ratings for movies that depict tobacco use

July 21, 2017
Public health experts have an unusual suggestion for reducing teen smoking: Give just about any movie that depicts tobacco use an automatic R rating.

High-fat diet in pregnancy can cause mental health problems in offspring

July 21, 2017
A high-fat diet not only creates health problems for expectant mothers, but new research in an animal model suggests it alters the development of the brain and endocrine system of their offspring and has a long-term impact ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.