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Biol Res Nurs. 2012 Oct;14(4):364-74. Epub 2012 Aug 23.

A biobehavioral approach to understanding obesity and the development of obesogenic illnesses among Latino immigrants in the United States.

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  • 1College of Nursing, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, Newark, 07102, USA.


The prevalence of obesity and obesity-related illnesses is higher among Hispanics (Latinos) than other racial and ethnic groups, and rates increase exponentially with the number of years living in the United States. Mounting evidence suggests that the origins of many chronic illnesses among disadvantaged minority groups may lie with cumulative exposure to chronic psychological and physiological stressors through the biobehavioral process of allostatic load (AL). Among immigrant Latinos, acculturation stress may contribute to an increase in AL and thus may be an independent risk factor for the development of obesity and obesogenic illnesses. The purpose of this theoretical article is to present a proposed model of the effects of acculturation stress on AL and obesity among Latino immigrants. Such a model can be useful to guide intervention efforts to decrease obesity among immigrant Latinos by adding education, skill building, and social integration strategies to healthy eating and physical activity to reduce the deleterious impact of acculturation stress.

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