Acculturation and Childhood Obesity within the Latino Population

Faculty Mentor(s)

Dr. Paulette Chaponniere, Hope College
Dr. Nancy Barnum, Hope College

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The prevalence of childhood overweight and obesity has reached epidemic proportions, and affects the Latino population more than any other ethnic group in the United States. The Latino paradox gives explanation to the fact that Latinos’ health tends to worsen after immigration to the United States. The purpose of this study was to gain a better understanding of acculturation within the Mexican-American population and its affect on childhood obesity. This study followed the theoretical framework of Virginia Henderson, which addresses the importance of nurses helping individuals in performing activities that lead to better health. Literature review of several nursing and professional journals was conducted with extensive focus on questions asked, possible factors, and tools used. This literature review yielded nine articles. To date, literature review has revealed that those considered less accultured have a greater risk of becoming overweight or obese. The tool being used to measure acculturation throughout the previous research is the Acculturation Rating Scale for Mexican Americans (ARSMA-II). Limitations to previous studies revealed that authors have looked only at adults and not children. An implication related to practice is that only nine articles reviewed thus far have been done on Latino children. Research questions thus far have examined contributing factors that may increase the risk of childhood obesity within the Latino population. Potential research questions that could be explored are what affect acculturation has on the increasing rate of childhood obesity within the Latino population in order to help nurses educate and prevent this growing epidemic.

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