While weight gain is common following migration to a new country and Mexican Americans have a disparate prevalence of overweight and obesity. In particular, Mexican American women have one of the world’s highest rates of Metabolic Syndrome (MetS), characterized by abdominal obesity, insulin resistance, hypertension, and dyslipidemia, all of which increase the risk for atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (CVD). Although the etiology of this dilemma is not well understood, using the framework of allostatic load (AL), we posit that exposure to multiple physiologic, psychosocial and environmental stressors over the course of the lifespan may contribute to an increased risk of MetS among indigenous Mexican immigrant women. Two such frequently overlooked stressors are: 1) a history of childhood growth stunting (CGS) and 2) dietary changes post migration that result in decreased diversity of the gut microbiome (dysbiosis). To date, little is known about how migration experiences differentially affect the relationship between CGS and MetS in adulthood. The purpose of this theoretical article is to present a proposed model of how early life stressors (ELS), specifically CGS, may interact with insalubrious aspects of the immigration experience to promote an increased risk for MetS among indigenous Mexican immigrant women. This model may be used in a bi-national effort to guide intervention efforts to decrease CGS in Mexico and to prevent, monitor or delay the components of MetS post migration in the US.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Research and Theory
- childhood growth stunting
- immigrant health
- metabolic syndrome