Monday, November 17, 2014

Language Issues Impede Obesity Counseling

A study from Texas demonstrates that in many cases language barriers are keeping pediatricians from talking to their Hispanic patients about their weight, even when those children are obese. Participant Alberta Jimenez said through an interpreter, “I could tell the doctor was trying to say something, and when I heard the word ‘pesado,’ I got excited, but actually the doctor just thought a pesado was Mexico's official unit of currency.”

In reviewing the 26 video recordings of wellness exams, researchers identified other culturally insensitive language blunders by clinicians. One, in trying to explain how Body Mass Index is calculated, actually said, “Se acepta dolares americanos?” Another, attempting to advise a patient on reducing sugar-sweetened beverage intake, asked for “dos cervezas por favor.” Officials from the Mexican consulate and US Foreign Service continue to work to smooth the resulting tensions.

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