Culture plays an important role in human perception of and attitudes to health due to the prevalent behaviors and beliefs that predetermine health-related routines and decisions. The implementation of a health education program requires specific identifications of a targeted health issue, the particularities of the population and its culture, and the needs of the patient population due to the issue’s impact. For that matter, the use of a PEN-3 model deems pertinent to clarify the cultural identity of the population that would inform proper interventions.
The health issue addressed in this paper is obesity in Hispanic populations. Due to the lack of physical activity and the shift to processed food use in daily diets, the Hispanic population, which is the fastest-growing population in the USA, suffers from obesity and its implications (Perez & Fleury, 2018). This health problem has been extensively addressed by Lindberg et al. (2013). The scholars argue that Hispanic populations residing in the USA for a long time are disproportionately exposed to the risk of obesity due to the high-fat diet and the impact of socio-economic factors hindering healthy diet (Lindberg et al., 2013). Statistics suggest that “according to recent estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 47% of Hispanic adults in the US are obese compared to only 37.9% of non-Hispanic whites” (Salinas et al., 2020, p. 1). Cultural beliefs about food, meals, and family relationships in food consumption predetermine the diet the Hispanic population follows on a daily basis. With the heightened risks of obesity deriving from cultural particularities, weight-loss interventions conducted with this population should also be informed by the cultural context.
Cultural Identity of the Population
A person is one of the three concepts addressed within the context of the PEN-3 model. This framework holds that the domain of a person involves individual decision-making under the influence of one’s culture. In this regard, a person is perceived as a cultural unit whose individual behaviors, attitudes, beliefs, and perspectives on a particular health issue predetermine their health-related decision (Perez & Fleury, 2018). According to Lindberg et al. (2013), Hispanic populations’ individuals believe that food should be nutritious yet accessible and not very expensive. Moreover, when addressing the weight-loss programs from the perspective of the person concept of the PEN-3 model, one might identify that Hispanic people are prone to value consistency and responsibility in following the interventions (Perez & Fleury, 2018). Thus, individuals’ cultural beliefs and values have a significant impact on their health-related decision-making since their cost-related compromises in food choices overlap with their ideas of consistency in interventions.
Extended family is the second concept within the PEN-3 model, which holds that the role of the extended family is essential in the health-related choices of a person. According to Lindberg et al. (2013), extended family’s inclusion in one’s life is particularly valued by the Hispanic community.
For that matter, one is motivated to make health-improving decisions and strive for better standards of life for the benefit of the family (Perez & Fleury, 2018). On the other hand, socio-economic factors might hinder beneficial food choices. In addition, when addressing the weight-loss interventions at the extended-family level, Hispanic populations are likely to involve their family members and persist in interventions to set a positive example for their loved ones (Perez & Fleury, 2018). Thus, extended family is highly prioritized by the Hispanic population when making food choices, following interventions, and making health-related solutions.
The third concept of the PEN-3 model is a neighborhood, which is manifested through the social environment that surrounds an individual. According to Lindberg et al. (2013), Hispanic populations residing in the USA and facing obesity and consecutive weight-loss challenges from their diet under the influence of local food choices. In particular, they consume more fat-containing and low-fiber foods, which contributes to excessive weight and comorbidities (Lindberg et al., 2013). Thus, the neighborhood of Hispanic immigrants impacts their ethnic beliefs and causes multiple challenges to making healthy decisions. In terms of the interventions aimed at addressing obesity, Perez and Fleury (2018) state that Hispanic people value a sense of community and support when coping with their health issues. This finding implies that the community might serve as a powerful, encouraging factor in cultivating healthy choices and the effectiveness of weight-loss interventions.
When reflecting on the explored research findings, one might state that Hispanic populations’ obesity issue is largely influenced by their ethnic values and beliefs, as well as the environment into which they immigrated. While the relationship between culture and health-related behaviors has been proven, there is a lack of culture-based interventions to address obesity in the Hispanic population (Lindberg et al., 2013). It is essential to recognize cultural beliefs and values about recovery to develop effective approaches that would be sensitive to one’s ethnic particularities and implement them in the planning of weight-loss interventions. Thus, in a multicultural society, culture predetermines healthcare approaches, which helps understand the epidemiology and find proper solutions for health issues.
Lindberg, N. M., Stevens, V. J., & Halperin, R. O. (2013). Weight-loss interventions for Hispanic populations: The role of culture. Journal of Obesity, 2013, 1-7.
Perez, A., & Fleury, J. (2018). Using a cultural framework to assess motivation for physical activity among older Hispanic women. Family & Community Health, 41(1), 10-17.
Salinas, J. J., Sheen, J., Carlyle, M., Shokar, N. K., Vazquez, G., Murphy, D., & Alozie, O. (2020). Using electronic medical record data to better understand obesity in Hispanic neighborhoods in El Paso, Texas. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 17(12), 1-11.