In this research group, we are conducting studies that examine the health, well-being and quality of life in Latin America
and the Caribbean (LAC) and among Latinos in the U.S.
Latin American and Caribbean (LAC) countries are undergoing demographic changes that are occurring at a much faster pace than
those experienced by developed countries. As a result, demographic changes related to aging are occurring faster in LAC. In addition,
epidemiological and nutritional transitions are also occurring. In recent decades, there has been a shift from infectious and parasitic
diseases to noncommunicable and degenerative diseases as leading causes of death. At the same time, dietary intake of foods high in
saturated fat and sugar, refined foods, and foods low in fiber have increased. These nutritional changes have important consequences
for body composition at the population level and are associated with an increase in prevalence of nutrition-related noncommunicable
diseases. Understanding the impact of these transitions on the health and well-being of individuals in LAC has important implications
not only for individuals residing in those countries, but also for the Latino population in the U.S.
We assess how these transitions influence the health, well-being and quality of life in LAC and among Latinos in the U.S. To
address our research questions, we have been engaged in three interdisciplinary and interrelated lines of research.
Health and aging in Latin America and the Caribbean
In this project, we address whether greater life expectancy is consistent with better health for the expanding elderly population in
developing countries. Given that the prevalence of obesity and diabetes is increasing worldwide, the influence of these conditions on life
expectancy will undoubtedly grow in the coming decades. However, very few studies focus on health expectancies in LAC. Our research
addresses this gap in the extant research.
Up Amigos project in Mexico
In this project, we explore how biological, lifestyle, social, and environmental factors influence the development of obesity and related
diseases among Mexican adolescents and young adults. This is a large collaborative interdisciplinary project that involves researchers from
the U of I and several collaborators in the colleges of Medicine, Nutrition, Biological Sciences, and Psychology at the University of San Luis
Potosí, Mexico. We have been collecting cross-sectional data on about 10,000 college student applicants every year since 2008; we also have an
embedded longitudinal cohort.
Weight status Misperception among Mexican Young Adults
My current research on weight status misperception among Mexican young adults has been widely featured in the following publications:
Health and aging among Latinos in the U.S.
This project focuses on the health outcomes and health care access of Latinos in the U.S. The fastest growing ethnic group in the nation is
composed by Latinos. By 2050, close to one in four US residents will be of Latino origin and most of the immigrants will be from Mexico. Latinos
in the U.S. have higher life expectancy than would be expected given their socioeconomic conditions, but they are more exposed to certain health
conditions, such as obesity, diabetes, and some mental health conditions. This project has been critical in providing strategies to address the
major health challenges faced by Latinos in the U.S.