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Health Disparities in Obesity: Limited English Proficiency and Health, a Fundamental Causes Approach.
The present study contributes to the sociology of health and illness by applying Link and Phelan’s theory of fundamental causes of disease to the study of language competence and health. The study answers the following research question: How does being limited in English proficiency (LEP) influence the effects of being obese on the prospects of having been diagnosed with heart disease for California residents? The project examines interaction effects between English competence and obesity to determine the partial effects of obesity and English competence on heart disease using secondary data from the 2011-2012 California Health Interview Survey. Contrary to expectations, findings indicate that individuals who are limited in English proficiency and are not obese (or overweight) have the lowest odds of being diagnosed with heart disease. Furthermore, findings indicate, consistent with expectations, that individuals who lack English competence have higher chances of experiencing the effects of obesity and overweight on heart disease compared with English proficient counterparts. Findings suggest that LEP and English proficient individuals deal differently with mechanisms linked with disease.
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