Journal of Immigrant and Minority Health

, Volume 13, Issue 6, pp 1069–1075 | Cite as

Chronic Malnutrition Among Overweight Hispanic Children: Understanding Health Disparities

  • Celia Iriart
  • Alexis J. HandalEmail author
  • Blake Boursaw
  • Gabriela Rodrigues
Original Paper


Obesity may be masking other health problems such as height deficit, or stunting. Stunting may reflect the cumulative effect of chronic malnutrition especially in underserved immigrant communities. Exploratory analysis of a sample of children 2–19 years old from the 2007–2008 NHANES was used to assess the relationship between chronic malnutrition and overweight/obesity in Hispanic children. Overall, overweight/obesity prevalence was nearly 1 in 3 children and stunting prevalence was 3.1%. The prevalence of stunting varied significantly across race/ethnicity, with prevalence among Hispanics of 6.6%. Prevalence of stunting varied significantly by socio-economic characteristics within the Hispanic population. Our exploratory study showed differences in the prevalence of stunting across racial/ethnic groups and highlighted that overweight/obese Hispanic children have a higher prevalence of stunting compared with Non-Hispanic White overweight/obese children. More studies are needed to better understand the phenomenon and the implications for health inequities.


Childhood obesity Chronic malnutrition Hispanic children US NHANES 



This exploratory study was funded by a seed grant from the University of New Mexico, School of Medicine, Resource Allocation Committee (RAC) and was supported in part by the Dedicated Health Research Funds from the University of New Mexico School of Medicine. We thank the RAC for their support of our research. The authors would like to thank Dr. Betty Skipper for her invaluable comments during the preparation of the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Celia Iriart
    • 1
  • Alexis J. Handal
    • 2
    Email author
  • Blake Boursaw
    • 3
  • Gabriela Rodrigues
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of Family and Community Medicine, Master of Public Health Program and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Center for Health PolicyMSC09 5060, 1 University of New MexicoAlbuquerqueUSA
  2. 2.Department of Family and Community Medicine, Master of Public Health ProgramMSC09 5060, 1 University of New MexicoAlbuquerqueUSA
  3. 3.Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Center for Health PolicyMSC05 3400, 1 University of New MexicoAlbuquerqueUSA
  4. 4.Master of Public Health ProgramMSC09 5060, 1 University of New MexicoAlbuquerqueUSA

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