A few more thoughts on diet/health story

Dear Editor,
I would like to congratulate Melanie Zaharopoulus on her
excellent health related articles. Her recent coverage of the Santa
Clara County Behavioral Risk Factor Survey conducted by the Santa
Clara County Public Health Department was well researched (South
Valley Needs to Diet, Feb. 22).
Dear Editor,

I would like to congratulate Melanie Zaharopoulus on her excellent health related articles. Her recent coverage of the Santa Clara County Behavioral Risk Factor Survey conducted by the Santa Clara County Public Health Department was well researched (South Valley Needs to Diet, Feb. 22). I would like to clarify several statements I made when interviewed for the article.

Regarding the rate of overweight males being significantly higher than females, with no significant gender difference in the obese category, I stated this might be related to a tendency for males to overestimate and for females to underestimate their weight. This does not mean that overweight men are not medically at risk for obesity and related medical problems. On the contrary, over-reporting weight may allude to a disregard for viewing overweight as a potential risk and thus not engaging in healthy behaviors. An example would be Hispanic males who tend to develop type 2 diabetes at a lower Body Mass Index than Caucasians.

I also discussed the role of acculturation in the prevalence of obesity among Hispanics (in particular Mexican immigrants). The traditional Mexican diet is rich in complex carbohydrates, fruits and vegetables, moderate in fat, low in processed food, and in many ways superior to the diet many adopt when they immigrate to this country. Larger portion size, increased intake of processed foods (higher in fat and simple carbohydrates and low in fiber) and a decrease in physical activity all contribute to an increase in weight and increased incidence of obesity, and it’s medical complications such as type 2 diabetes.

A calorie is a calorie and intake of more calories than the body can utilize will lead to weight gain no matter the source. However, the science of nutrigenomics explores the links between diet, genes, and diseases. Nutrigenomics recognizes that individual genetic variations may exacerbate diet as a risk factor for disease. It may not be a question of good or bad genes, but rather how they interact with your environment. This may certainly be the case among Mexican immigrants who pay a heavy price for “eating the American way.”

Lillian Castillo, Gilroy

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