Chronic malnutrition among overweight Hispanic children: understanding health disparities

J Immigr Minor Health. 2011 Dec;13(6):1069-75. doi: 10.1007/s10903-011-9464-7.


Obesity may be masking other health problems such as height deficit, or stunting. Stunting may reflect the cumulative effect of chronic malnutrition especially in underserved immigrant communities. Exploratory analysis of a sample of children 2-19 years old from the 2007-2008 NHANES was used to assess the relationship between chronic malnutrition and overweight/obesity in Hispanic children. Overall, overweight/obesity prevalence was nearly 1 in 3 children and stunting prevalence was 3.1%. The prevalence of stunting varied significantly across race/ethnicity, with prevalence among Hispanics of 6.6%. Prevalence of stunting varied significantly by socio-economic characteristics within the Hispanic population. Our exploratory study showed differences in the prevalence of stunting across racial/ethnic groups and highlighted that overweight/obese Hispanic children have a higher prevalence of stunting compared with Non-Hispanic White overweight/obese children. More studies are needed to better understand the phenomenon and the implications for health inequities.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Chronic Disease*
  • Female
  • Health Status Disparities*
  • Hispanic Americans*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Malnutrition / epidemiology
  • Malnutrition / ethnology*
  • Nutrition Surveys
  • Overweight / epidemiology
  • Overweight / ethnology*
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Young Adult