Journal of Immigrant and Minority Health

, Volume 14, Issue 4, pp 517–522 | Cite as

Higher Risk for Obesity Among Mexican–American and Mexican Immigrant Children and Adolescents than Among Peers in Mexico

  • María A. Hernández-Valero
  • L. Patricia Bustamante-Montes
  • Mike Hernández
  • Elizabeth Halley-Castillo
  • Anna V. Wilkinson
  • Melissa L. Bondy
  • Norma Olvera
Original Paper


We conducted a cross-sectional study among 1,717 children and adolescents of Mexican origin ages 5–19 years living in Mexico and Texas to explore the influence of country of birth and country of longest residence on their overweight and obesity status. Descriptive statistics were used to compare demographic and anthropometric characteristics of participants born and raised in Mexico (Mexicans), born in Mexico and raised in the United States (Mexican immigrants), and born and raised in the United States (Mexican–Americans). Univariate and multivariate nominal logistic regression was used to determine the demographic predictors of obesity adjusted by country of birth, country of residence, age, and gender. Almost half (48.8%) of the Mexican–Americans and 43.2% of the Mexican immigrants had body mass index at the 85th percentile or above, compared to only 29.3% of the Mexicans (P < .001). Thus, Mexican–Americans and Mexican immigrants were more likely to be obese than their Mexican peers [Mexican–Americans: odds ratio (OR) = 2.5 (95% confidence interval [CI] 1.8–3.4); Mexican immigrants: OR = 2.2 (95% CI 1.6–3.0)]. In addition, males were more likely than females to be obese [OR = 1.6 (95% CI 1.2–2.1)], and adolescents 15–19 years of age were less likely than their younger counterparts [OR = 0.5 (95% CI 0.4–0.7)] to be obese. The high prevalence of obesity among children of Mexican origin in the United States is of great concern and underscores the urgent need to develop and implement obesity preventive interventions targeting younger children of Mexican origin, especially newly arrived immigrant children. In addition, future obesity research should take into consideration the country of origin of the study population to develop more culturally specific obesity interventions.


Children Obesity risk Mexican Immigrant population Minority Health disparities 



We thank the participants from the 3 studies for their cooperation and participation in the research. We also thank the staff of the studies for their collaboration in the conduct of the research, and Ms. Stephanie Deming from the Department of Scientific Publications, MD Anderson Cancer Center for her editorial comments. This research was supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health ([NCMHD P60-MD000503 (MAHV) and CA126988 (AVW)]; the Fulbright Scholarship Program (MAHV); the Caroline W. Law Fund for Cancer Prevention (MLB); funds collected pursuant to the Comprehensive Tobacco Settlement of 1998 and appropriated by the 76th legislature to MD Anderson Cancer Center (MLB); the Comisión Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnología (EHC); the Comisión Mexiquense de Ciencia y Tecnología (EHC); the Universidad Autónoma del Estado de México (LPBM and EHC), and the Instituto Mexicano del Seguro Social (EHC).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • María A. Hernández-Valero
    • 1
  • L. Patricia Bustamante-Montes
    • 2
  • Mike Hernández
    • 3
  • Elizabeth Halley-Castillo
    • 4
  • Anna V. Wilkinson
    • 5
  • Melissa L. Bondy
    • 5
  • Norma Olvera
    • 6
  1. 1.Center for Research on Minority Health, Department of Health Disparities ResearchThe University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer CenterHoustonUSA
  2. 2.Facultad de MedicinaUniversidad Autónoma del Estado de MéxicoTolucaMexico
  3. 3.Department of BiostatisticsThe University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer CenterHoustonUSA
  4. 4.Jefatura de EnseñanzaCentro Médico “Licenciado Adolfo López Mateos”MéxicoMexico
  5. 5.Department of EpidemiologyThe University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer CenterHoustonUSA
  6. 6.Department of Educational PsychologyThe University of HoustonHoustonUSA

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