Mexican immigrant obesity rates climb with deportation fears

June 10, 2020

Mexican immigrants, especially those who are undocumented and fear deportation, have limited access to healthy foods and are at increased risk for obesity because of stress, anxiety and depression, according to a Rutgers study.

Karen D’Alonzo (PhD, RN, APN-c, FAAN), associate professor and director of the Center for Community Health Partnerships at Rutgers School of Nursing, is lead author of the study published in the journal Progress in Community Health Partnerships. Researchers evaluated the barriers to healthy eating faced by Mexican immigrants in New Brunswick, N.J., where about 50 percent of residents are Mexican immigrants and nearly one-third of children in immigrant families are obese.

“Many Mexican-born parents reported feeling guilty about their U.S.-born children’s deportation concerns and cope by allowing them to eat whatever they want,” D’Alonzo said. “In addition, few children joined sports teams, especially if significant parental involvement was required. Parents were either working or staying home to keep out of sight.”