Date of Award

Spring 2020

Document Type

Honors Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Department

Spanish

First Advisor

Melissa Layne

Second Advisor

Alvaro Torres-Calderón, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Jameson Brewer, Ph.D.

Abstract

Obesity is a disease characterized by the accumulation of excess energy storage within the body, and it is a risk factor for a number of non-communicable diseases that are increasing in prevalence worldwide. With the use of data collected between 2000 and 2016 by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), it has been determined that adulthood obesity rates have been increasing for all of the South American countries that list Spanish as an official language (Argentina, Colombia, Peru, Chile, Venezuela, Uruguay, Ecuador, Bolivia, and Paraguay). Specifically, Peru and Chile were identified as the countries with the least and greatest percentage growth of obesity between the years of 2000 and 2016, respectively. This study identifies and analyzes information regarding governmental interventions, economic factors, historic and present gastronomy, lifestyle factors, and media influence, for both Peru and Chile in order to find possible contributing factors toward the nationwide prevalence of obesity, especially because the two nations share a similar history and political border. In many ways, the data collected is in contradiction with previously held hypotheses concerning obesity. Specifically, despite the fact that obesity rates are growing faster within the Chilean population, Chile has enacted more governmental interventions, such as the publication of Food-Based Dietary Guidelines (FBDG), than Peru. Overall, the data collected calls into question the absence of research regarding health literacy, which is a relatively new concept that assesses an individual’s ability to understand, apply, and adhere to health concepts. Recent research studies support the hypothesis that higher health literacy rates increase the effectiveness of public health interventions, and the contradictions present in this study may be accounted for with a comparison of health literacy rates between the two countries in the future.

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