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Problematic of Obesity in Mexican Americans

Background Information

Mexican Americans are citizens of Mexican origin or descent. There are over 34 million Mexican Americans living in the United States today. This represents 10.9% of the country’s total population. Majority of Mexican Americans have established unique personal relationships with people of their own descent. They also establish strong ties with their family members (Hernandez-Valero et al., 2011). One thing about Mexican Americans is that they are aware of the environment. This explains why they embrace the best environmental conservation strategies. Currently, there is an increasing number of Mexican Americans migrating into the country.

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Cultural Beliefs and Health Practices

Cultural aspects and practices usually have significant impacts on the health of a person. Most Mexican American children are usually engaged in less physical activities. This explains the high prevalence of different health conditions such as obesity among the cultural groups. Obesity is today a major concern affecting most Mexican African children. “The situation calls for preventive measures and awareness (Bayles, 2010)”. As people grow older, they become less active thus increasing their chances of becoming obese.

The cultural beliefs of the cultural group have significant impacts on their health practices. To begin with, Mexican Americans use various traditional foods. They also have strong beliefs regarding food and dietary intakes. During illness, most of Mexican Americans encourage the use of lighter foods. As well, they discourage any thoughts related to illnesses and death (Hernandez-Valero et al., 2011). This is what helps the people overcome fear. Such beliefs affect their health conditions. With this understanding, caregivers can apply the best nursing practices in order to deliver competent care based on the cultural aspects of the people.

Barriers to Competent Health Care

Various barriers make it impossible to provide culturally competent health care to Mexican Americans suffering from obesity. To begin with, the individuals do not consider obesity as a major challenge or health issue. This makes it hard for caregivers to support the patients. The cultural group discourages certain meals such as meat during illness. For a caregiver or nurse to provide culturally competent health care, it is necessary to address this barrier. The other barrier arises from socio-cultural issues. Most of the Mexican Americans consider themselves as less fortunate. This has resulted in prejudices and stereotypes thus affecting the quality of health care delivered to them. “Sometimes the individuals embrace traditional remedies and beliefs as the best solutions towards a better health (Long, Janice, Mareno, Shabo & Wilson, 2012)”. This makes it impossible for nurses and caregivers to provide culturally competent health care.

Example of an Ethical Dilemma and Competent Strategies

From the above discussion, it is notable that several ethical issues might arise during delivery of care. One of the ethical dilemmas that might arise in an effort to provide culturally competent care to patients suffering from obesity is when encouraging the individuals to share ideas about dangers of obesity. This also includes how obesity causes death or complications. For a healthcare worker, it becomes unclear how to address issues concerning the disease and death. This is a major ethical dilemma because most of the Mexican Americans do not engage in discussions related to death (Long, Mareno, Shabo & Wilson, 2012). They believe that worrying will worsen a person’s health condition.

With this dilemma, medical practitioners and caregivers should embrace the best strategies in order to provide quality health care. The first “culturally competent strategy” is embracing new relationships based on mutual respect, confidence, and trust. The strategy will help different patients suffering from obesity embrace the ideas of the caregiver. For instance, this will encourage the cultural group to embrace the best eating habits. The other competent strategy is the use of “training and awareness” on cross-cultural and ethical issues (Bayles, 2010). With this strategy, patients and guardians will embrace the best habits and eventually address the problem of obesity among Mexican Americans.


Bayles, B. (2010). Perceptions of Childhood Obesity on the Texas-Mexico Border. Public Health Nursing, 27(4), 320-328.

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Hernandez-Valero, M., Bustamante-Montes, P., Hernandez, M., Halley-Castillo, E., Wilkinson, A., Bondy, M. & Olvera, N. (2011). Higher Risk for Obesity among Mexican–American and Mexican Immigrant Children and Adolescents than Among Peers in Mexico. Journal of Immigrant Minority Health, 14(1), 517-522.

Long, J., Mareno, N., Shabo, R. & Wilson, A. (2012). Overweight and obesity among White, Black, and Mexican American children: Implications for when to intervene. Journal for Specialists in Pediatric Nursing, 17(1), 41–50.

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