Background: Weight gain is common following migration to a new country. Mexican immigrants have a disparate prevalence of overweight/obesity and food insecurity. Social stressors, such as unemployment, discrimination, and the threat of deportation, may fuel both food insecurity and weight gain in this population.

Objectives: We sought to (1) examine community-defined causes and correlates of obesity among Mexican-Americans; (2) determine how current social stressors, policies, and programs impact food insecurity and obesity; and (3) identify community-defined priorities for preventive interventions.

Methods: Group concept mapping (GCM) was used in a community–academic partnership (CAP) to describe the factors contributing to weight gain and obesity among Mexican immigrant families. Activities included community brainstorming, sorting and rating, multivariate statistical analysis, and community interpretation of results.

Results: Eighty statements were generated in the brainstorming sessions. These statements were sorted into nine clusters, which were organized into three regions: (1) intrapersonal factors; (2) community-level factors; and (3) social policy–related barriers. Statements reflecting the impact of immigration-related stressors were found in all three regions, addressing participants' fears of deportation, and the prioritization of resources away from healthy eating, resulting in food insecurity. Community members identified five priority areas for intervention planning: (1) lack of exercise; (2) lack of knowledge of a healthy diet; (3) expense of healthy foods; (4) "junk" food; and (5) stress management.

Conclusions: Results suggest high levels of social stress are contributing to food insecurity and obesity among Mexican immigrant families. Areas identified for intervention planning reflect the need for a multifaceted approach toward obesity prevention.


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pp. 173-185
Launched on MUSE
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