Prevalence of obesity among immigrants increases with longer residency in US

December 14, 2004

The longer an immigrant lives in the U.S. the more likely they are to be obese, according to a study in the December 15 issue of JAMA.

Since the 1980s, the U.S. population has become more obese, according to background information in the article. However, little information is available about the prevalence of obesity among immigrants, the fastest growing segment of the U.S. population, currently comprising more than 11 percent of the total U.S. population and an even larger proportion of many minority groups. Immigrants generally originate from countries where the prevalence of obesity is lower than that of the United States, but adopting U.S. norms over time may lead to an increasing prevalence of obesity among this population.

Mita Sanghavi Goel, M.D., M.P.H., of the Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University, Chicago, and colleagues examined the relationship between prevalence of obesity and years of U.S. residence among immigrants nationally, and explored whether counseling about diet and exercise may differ between immigrants and U.S.-born adults. The researchers used data from the 2000 National Health Interview Survey. Information collected included body mass index (BMI, measured as weight in kilograms divided by the square of height in meters) and rates of diet and exercise counseling.

Of 32,374 respondents (representing an estimated 201 million adults in the United States), 14 percent were immigrants. The prevalence of obesity was 16 percent among immigrants and 22 percent among US-born individuals. The researchers found that the prevalence of obesity was 8 percent among immigrants living in the United States for less than 1 year, but 19 percent among those living in the United States for more than 15 years. After adjusting for age, sociodemographic, and lifestyle factors, living in the United States for 10 to 15 years was associated with a BMI increase of 0.88, while living in the United States for at least 15 years was associated with a BMI increase of 1.39. The association for more than 15 years was significant for all immigrant subgroups, including whites, Latinos and Asians, but not foreign-born blacks. "To illustrate the impact, for a typical 5'4" immigrant woman and a typical 5'9" immigrant man this amounts to an excess 9 lb. (4.05 kg) and 11 lb. (4.95 kg), respectively, in addition to any weight gained due to aging or other factors," the authors write.

The study also found that immigrants were less likely than U.S.-born individuals to report discussing diet and exercise with clinicians (18 percent vs. 24 percent; 19 percent vs. 23 percent, respectively).

"In summary, immigrants appear to assume a similarly high prevalence of obesity as U.S.-born adults with longer duration of residence. With the growing immigrant population in the United States, early clinician intervention on diet and physical activity may represent an important opportunity to prevent weight gain, obesity, and obesity-related chronic illnesses," the researchers conclude.
-end-
(JAMA. 2004; 292: 2860-2867. Available post-embargo at www.jama.com)

Editor's Note: For funding and financial disclosure information, please see the JAMA article.

The JAMA Network Journals

Related Obesity Articles from Brightsurf:

11 years of data add to the evidence for using testosterone therapy to treat obesity, including as an alternative to obesity surgery
New research covering 11 years of data presented at this year's European and International Congress on Obesity (ECOICO 2020) show that, in obese men suffering from hypogonadism (low testosterone), treatment with testosterone injections lowers their weight and improves a wide range of other metabolic parameters.

Overlap between immunology of COVID-19 and obesity could explain the increased risk of death in people living with obesity, and also older patients
Data presented in a special COVID-19 session at the European and International Congress on Obesity (ECOICO 2020) suggests that there are overlaps between the immunological disturbances found in both COVID-19 disease and patients with obesity, which could explain the increased disease severity and mortality risk faced by obese patients, and also elderly patients, who are infected by the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19 disease.

New obesity guideline: Address root causes as foundation of obesity management
besity management should focus on outcomes that patients consider to be important, not weight loss alone, and include a holistic approach that addresses the root causes of obesity, according to a new clinical practice guideline published in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal) http://www.cmaj.ca/lookup/doi/10.1503/cmaj.191707.

Changing the debate around obesity
The UK's National Health Service (NHS) needs to do more to address the ingrained stigma and discrimination faced by people with obesity, says a leading health psychologist.

Study links longer exposure to obesity and earlier development of obesity to increased risk of type 2 diabetes
Cumulative exposure to obesity could be at least as important as actually being obese in terms of risk of developing type 2 diabetes (T2D), concludes new research published in Diabetologia (the journal of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes [EASD]).

How much do obesity and addictions overlap?
A large analysis of personality studies has found that people with obesity behave somewhat like people with addictions to alcohol or drugs.

Should obesity be recognized as a disease?
With obesity now affecting almost a third (29%) of the population in England, and expected to rise to 35% by 2030, should we now recognize it as a disease?

Is obesity associated with risk of pediatric MS?
A single-center study of 453 children in Germany with multiple sclerosis (MS) investigated the association of obesity with pediatric MS risk and with the response of first-line therapy in children with MS.

Women with obesity prior to conception are more likely to have children with obesity
A systematic review and meta-analysis identified significantly increased odds of child obesity when mothers have obesity before conception, according to a study published June 11, 2019 in the open-access journal PLOS Medicine by Nicola Heslehurst of Newcastle University in the UK, and colleagues.

Obesity medicine association announces major updates to its adult obesity algorithm
The Obesity Medicine Association (OMA) announced the immediate availability of the 2019 OMA Adult Obesity Algorithm, with new information for clinicians including the relationship between Obesity and Cardiovascular Disease, Diabetes Mellitus, Dyslipidemia, and Cancer; information on investigational Anti-Obesity Pharmacotherapy; treatments for Lipodystrophy; and Pharmacokinetics and Obesity.

Read More: Obesity News and Obesity Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.