Latinitas - A Strong Voice for Latina Youth

There is no doubt that Hispanics, as a minority group, are growing in numbers at increasingly fast rates. It is thus easy to understand why it is important to foster a positive environment for young, Hispanic women to flourish in.  Currently, young hispanic females are at a higher risk for depression, substance abuse, teenage pregnancies, and high school dropouts (MMWR 2011). It has also been noted that about 30% of America's youth is overweight or obese (BMI >25), and that about 14% of America's youth have no physical activity of any kind.  In fact, Hispanics have 21% higher obesity rates when compared to their non-Hispanic White counterparts.  

Much speculation lies around the causes of higher obesity and related morbidity events in young hispanic females, in particular.  Today, I would like to talk about how body image plays a role in these causes of morbidity and mortality. 

It is difficult to narrow down which factors play a role in body image.  One article by lead writer Debra L. Franko (Considering J.Lo and Ugly Betty: A qualitative examination of risk factors and prevention targets for body dissatisfaction, eating disorders, and obesity in young Latina women) spoke of four main themes which impact body image in young Hispanic females: 

  1. Cultural disparities in body-ideals
  2. Messages about body shape and weight received by family, peers, and society
  3. Difficulties in making healthy eating and physical activities choices as a function of college life
  4. The influence of peers and potential male partners on body satisfaction and body ideals 

Basically, these are the four areas which the article stated: Culture, Family & Peers, Health education, and Male partners. 

So what can you do to counteract these influences (when negative) in your life? 

  1. Talk to an expert - A Counselor, Psychiatrist, etc. - If you're feeling negative feelings of any sort, reach out
  2. Get informed - if you have health or dieting related questions - ask your healthcare provider(s)

Here's a good website I found:

Hope this has been informative & useful 


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Comment by Carolina Rodriguez on April 23, 2013 at 3:13pm
Hello Wendy! So glad you took the time to read what I posted :)

I'm sure exercise is a great way to improve body image, and I have no doubts that it also does wonders on everyone's overal health.

In regards to the message I was trying to convey, I just wanted to explain how many different factors contribute to body image, and I also wanted to make a few suggestions (talking to health care providers, etc) for those struggling with body image.

As for health and weight not being related, I will have to disagree with you there. It is very apparent that obesity and being overweight severely impacts physical health. Increased free fatty acids in your blood stream causes insulin resistance which leads to diabetes, and increased fat deposition in your arteries can lead to cardiovascular disease, heart attacks and heart failure, and increased blood pressure.
Currently, many health care professionals use BMI (Body Mass Index) as their primary assessment tool, and this calculation does have its flaws (ex. it doesn't take into account muscle vs. fat mass). However, For the majority of the population, it is still a very good health indicator tool. In fact, it is used by most insurance companies and other third party payers.

One can argue that a "skinny" person is not necessarily in better health that a "fat or fuller" person. Type 1 diabetics are a great example. However, in general, an excess of added weight will create more health problems. A thin and a heavier person could lead the same lifestyle (eat the same food, etc), and most likely, the heavier set person will have a greater tendency to develop negatively associated health conditions. This is what is seen in clinical practice. Of course, genetics and other factors do have their place and play particular roles.

Now, again, I would like to emphasize that not everyone needs to be a size 0 or 2. Each individual has their own healthy weight goal. Dietitians and other health care professionals try to get people to reach their particular goals. I believe that everyone should be able to reach a healthy weight they are comfortable with through correct education and lifestyle modifications.

Lastly, if anyone is experiencing mental or emotional issues that are negatively impacting their weight control or body image - I highly recommend they seek proper care and guidance.
Comment by Wendy Gonzalez on April 23, 2013 at 2:29pm

I do not understand what your point is?...are you saying that we should exercise?...Yes exercise is good for your health but health and weight are not related. 




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