Is Americanization killing Latinos?

An article published in the front section of The New York Times on Sunday, May 19, concludes that foreign-born immigrants who have been living in America for a while are more likely to have shorter life spans and suffer from heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure and other related illnesses than immigrants who recently arrived. What is even sadder is that according to numerous studies, the children of immigrants who are born in this country are even worse off. They are "51 percent more likely to be obese than non-Hispanic white children" and the incidence of diseases related to obesity is even higher than among their parents! What I'm worndering though is how is this possible?


Read more in ¿Qué más? You are what you eat, and so are your kids!

According to the author, Sabrina Tavernise, professors and experts quoted throughout the article, the adoption of American lifestyle and behaviors, or Americanization, is causing Latinos' health issues. The main factors being blamed are 1) sedentary lifestyles, 2) the consumption of packaged, high-calorie foods that make our busy lives more convenient, 3) smoking, and 4) drinking (Latinos tend to drink more juices and soda rather than plain water).

Personally, #1 and #2 are my biggest problems. It's hard for me to make time to cook from scratch and to fit in an exercise routine into my busy schedule. After work, the easiest thing for me to do is to stick a frozen pizza in the oven, have the kids whip up some mac and cheese or go out for fast food. The weekends and holidays are the only times I cook from scratch using a healthier mix of fresh ingredients. And, although my doctor has told me I need to exercise, it's hard to get myself motivated after a long day at work. I'd rather spend the little time that I have on the weeknights with my familia even if it means sitting in front of the TV. 

Fortunately, none of us smoke and I try to keep healthy beverage options at home. Although I feel like the lifestyle and behaviors of those from my country of origin (Chile) are changing similarly to those of Americans I do feel like I eat healthier when I visit my familia in Chile. We need to go back to our healthy roots. Unfortunately, sometimes (as it's happened to me) it takes a health scare to change our ways. I hope it doesn't come to that for nuestra gente! 

Image via Thinkstock

Topics: latinos health  healthy habits