I Have More Immediate Concerns Than Body Weight: The Relationship Between Mexican - American Stressors And Weight Perceptions

Open Access
Gonzalez, Jonathan
Graduate Program:
Master of Arts
Document Type:
Master Thesis
Date of Defense:
July 18, 2012
Committee Members:
  • Jennifer Lynne Van Hook, Thesis Advisor
  • weight
  • perceptions
  • obesity
  • Mexican
  • stressors
  • men
  • body mass index
Recent work has shown that, among Mexican-American men, recently-arrived immigrants have the lowest tendencies to self-classify as overweight (net of BMI). Needs-based motivation theory suggests that there are more immediately pressing stressors than body weight issues. I examine the notion that newly-arrived Mexican men are at a disadvantage of being able to identify their overweight status because new immigrants experience a plethora of stressors that take precedence over body weight issues. Using data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (1999-2007), I explore the relationship of various types of stressors (immigration, economic, food insecurity, and medical conditions) and weight perceptions. Increases in the economic stressors (poverty and household crowding) decreased the odds of self-classifying as overweight. Poverty and household crowding were found to partially explain newly-arrived immigrant men’s low tendency to self-classify as overweight. Some proponents may support the view that is the individuals’ responsibility to exercise and take care of their body weight. However, society must help overweight individuals who do not perceive themselves as overweight because they are less likely to attempt to lose weight.