The shape of things to come? Obesity prevalence among foreign-born vs. US-born Mexican youth in California

Alison M. Buttenheim, Anne R. Pebley, Katie Hsih, Chang Y. Chung, Noreen Goldman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Obesity among the Mexican-origin adult population in the US has been associated with longer stays in the US and with being US- vs. Mexican-born, two proxies for acculturation. This pattern is less clear for Mexican-origin children and young adults: recent evidence suggests that it may be reversed, with foreign-born Mexican youth in the US at higher risk of obesity than their US-born Mexican-American counterparts. The objective of this study is to evaluate the hypothesis that the immigrant advantage in obesity prevalence for Mexican-origin populations in the US does not hold for children and young adults. We use data from the Los Angeles Family and Neighborhood Survey (N = 1143) and the California Health Interview Survey (N = 25,487) for respondents ages 4-24 to calculate the odds of overweight/obesity by ethnicity and nativity. We find support for the hypothesis that overweight/obesity prevalence is not significantly lower for first-generation compared to second- and third-generation Mexican-origin youth. Significantly higher obesity prevalence among the first generation was observed for young adult males (ages 18-24) and adolescent females (ages 12-17). The previously-observed protective effect against obesity risk among recent adult immigrants does not hold for Mexican-origin youth.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-8
Number of pages8
JournalSocial Science and Medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2013

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Health(social science)
  • History and Philosophy of Science


  • Adolescent
  • Children
  • Hispanic and Latino
  • Immigrant populations
  • Obesity
  • U.S.A.


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