Overweight/Obesity and Quality of Life: A Comparison of Mexican and Mexican-American Adolescents
Vargas, Olivia Lynne
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Background: The Youth Quality of Life – Weight (YQOL-W) module measures the weight related quality of life of adolescents across three domains – self, environment and social. Quality of life (QoL) measures are used frequently in research to assess health outcomes and the impact health problems have on overall life quality. Despite intensive QoL research, few studies have used QoL measures to compare the impacts of obesity on a multi-cultural population. Methods: The data was collected between 2006-2008 in Seattle, WA, Los Angeles, CA and Cuernavaca, Mexico. This study compared the weight related QoL of African American (N=104), European American (N=105), Mexican American (N=98) and Mexican (N=196) adolescents aged 11-18 who completed the QoL weight-specific model. Data was analyzed using a backwards step-wise multiple regression analysis with a step-size of 0.05. Results: Results found that African Americans had the highest YQOL-W, while Mexicans had the lowest (p<0.001). Males had significantly higher YQOL-W than females across all ethnicities (p<0.001). Ethnic affinity, or how closely one feels connected to their ethnicity or culture, was also significantly correlated with a higher quality of life across all groups. Perceived body size was most predictive of QoL – adolescents who perceived their body as heavier, regardless of their weight, have significantly lower QoL scores (p<0.001). Qualitative interviews demonstrated that African American youth were accepted by their peers and families, while the majority of Mexicans (92%) and Mexican Americans (52%) felt stigmatized or teased about their weight from their peers and/or families. The sub-analysis found that the difference in QoL between Mexican and Mexican Americans was not significant, however being obese was more predictive of poor QoL-Self domain than being overweight (p<0.021). There was a significant difference in YQOL-W between Mexican and Mexican American males, where Mexicans had significantly lower scores (p<0.044). Conclusions: Results demonstrated that race/ethnicity does impact weight-related QoL, but areas such as gender, perceived body size and ethnic affinity more important to weigh-specific QoL. These results can be used to better tailor cross-cultural weight-loss interventions and programs in the future.
- Health services