Obesity and Smoking
Armed with the realization that cardiovascular disease, stroke, cancer and diabetes are indeed the leading causes of death for the majority of women, there is an impetus to understand the underlying factors that contribute to the development of these chronic health problems. Considering the behavior related issues that are most associated with many diseases, researchers have consistently shown formidable links between smoking and cardiovascular disease, cancer and stroke and between obesity and cardiovascular disease, diabetes, stroke and certain types of cancer.
Elucidating the risk that smoking poses for individual health, the U.S. Surgeon General (2001) notes, “Cigarette smoking is the major cause of lung cancer among women. About 90% of all lung cancer deaths among U.S. women smokers are attributable to smoking.” Further, “Smoking is a major cause of coronary heart disease among women” (Women and Smoking). Illustrating the links that exist between obesity and health the Centers for Disease Control (2001) report that research has shown that obesity has been strongly associated with diabetes, coronary heart disease, stroke and certain types of cancer. Thus, when put together, the health risks posed to an individual that is both obese and a smoker pose a significant health quagmire for the individual.
Research shows that while smoking and obesity rates increase among populations that are of lower socio-economic class and educational attainment, this trend is not cohesively seen in the Hispanic population. Among Hispanic women—who are typically of lower SES and educational attainment—obesity rates are high—as would be expected—and smoking rates are relatively low—contrary to what would be expected. What this effectively shows is that cultural attitudes and beliefs toward both smoking and obesity have carry significant weight when attempting to understand the prevalence of these behaviors in Hispanic culture.