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Why do some Mexican parents discourage teens' physical activity?
Date:12/5/2011

URBANA Imagine this scene: A teen who is about to enter college goes for a run or heads off for a game of soccer. But Mom and Dad complain about it, and the more physically active the teen is, the more the parents push back against it.

"This scenario is a variation on an often-heard complaint among students in Mexico," said Angela Wiley, co-author of a new University of Illinois survey of Mexican college applicants that offers a possible explanation for these attitudes and experiences as being rooted in cultural beliefs and expectations.

"In Mexico, where there are very high rates of obesity and diabetes, we'd expect parents to encourage their teens to be active, but this study tells us the opposite is often true, at least for college-bound students," she added.

Wiley said that the problem of obesity is more complicated than it seems, and sometimes cultural values and attitudes play a role in its development. She suspects that parents of college-bound teens may think the time their teens spend exercising could be better spent studying.

"Or parents may believe their teen's physical activity, which often takes place in a social context, takes away from family time," she said.

She admitted that more research is needed to uncover Mexican parents' values and beliefs about this issue. "However, any research that helps us understand Latino attitudes about physical activity is valuable not only in Mexico but in the United States, where obesity rates are climbing among Mexican immigrants," she added.

Wiley had the opportunity to survey college applicants about their health and fitness when she visited the Autonomous University of San Luis Potosί in Mexico as part of the U of I College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences (ACES) Academy of Global Engagement.

Upon returning to Illinois, she recruited three additional faculty membersMarcela Raffaelli, Flavia Andrade, and Margerita Teran-G
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Contact: Phyllis Picklesimer
p-pickle@illinois.edu
217-244-2827
University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences
Source:Eurekalert

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