Document Type



Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Public Health

First Advisor's Name

Elena Bastida

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

Virginia McCoy

Third Advisor's Name

Ahmed Albatineh

Fourth Advisor's Name

Richard Palmer

Fifth Advisor's Name

Marianna Baum


Obesity, Mexican Americans, Weight Loss

Date of Defense



The study of obesity has evolved into one of the most important public health issues in the United States (U.S.), particularly in Hispanic populations. Mexican Americans, the largest Hispanic ethnic subgroup in the U.S., have been significantly impacted by obesity and related cardiovascular diseases. Mexican Americans living in the Lower Rio Grande Valley (the Valley) in the Texas-Mexico border are one of the most disadvantaged and hard-to-reach minority groups. Demographic factors, socioeconomic status, acculturation, and physical activity behavior have been found to be important predictors of health, although research findings are mixed when establishing predictors of obesity in this population. Furthermore, while obesity has long been linked to cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk factors such as hypertension, type 2 diabetes, and dyslipidemia; information on the relationships between obesity and these CVD risk factors have been mostly from non-minority population groups. Overall, research has been mixed in establishing the association between obesity and related CVD risk factors in this population calling attention to the need for further research. Nevertheless, identifying predictors of success for weight loss in this population will be important if health disparities are to be addressed. The overall objective of the findings presented in this dissertation was to attain a more informed profile of obesity and CVD risk factors in this population. In particular, we examined predictors of obesity, measures of obesity and association with cardiovascular disease risk factors in a sample of 975 Mexican Americans participating in a health promotion program in the Valley region. Findings suggest acculturation factors to be one of the most important predictors of obesity in this population. Results also point to the need of identifying other possible risk factors for predicting CVD risk. Finally, initial body mass index is an important predictor of weight loss in this population group. Thus, indicating that this population is not only amenable to change, but that improvements in weight loss are feasible. This finding strengthens the relevance of prevention programs such as Beyond Sabor for Mexican populations at risk, in particular, food bank recipients.





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