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Is migration to Canada associated with unhealthy weight gain? Overweight and obesity among Canada's immigrants

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  • McDonald, James Ted
  • Kennedy, Steven

Abstract

This paper aims to address a gap in our understanding of immigrant health issues by examining the determinants of excess weight--an important indicator of current and future health. The paper combines data drawn from recent large health surveys to identify how the weight of recent immigrants compares with that of native-born people, and how the likelihood of becoming overweight or obese changes with additional years in Canada. We find evidence that on average, immigrants are substantially less likely to be obese or overweight upon arrival in Canada. These measures converge slowly to native-born levels, but there is marked variation by the ethnicity of the immigrant. Since changes in weight will reflect choices with respect to diet and activity, the extent to which overweight and obesity rates change with years in Canada may reflect the extent to which immigrants interact with or are influenced by members of their ethnic group who reside in the same area. We find evidence that ethnic group social network effects exert a quantitatively important influence on the incidence of being overweight and obese for members of most ethnic minorities, tempering the process of adjustment to Canadian lifestyle norms that may be driving excess weight gain with additional years in Canada.

Suggested Citation

  • McDonald, James Ted & Kennedy, Steven, 2005. "Is migration to Canada associated with unhealthy weight gain? Overweight and obesity among Canada's immigrants," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 61(12), pages 2469-2481, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:61:y:2005:i:12:p:2469-2481
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Constant, Amelie F. & García-Muñoz, Teresa & Neuman, Shoshana & Neuman, Tzahi, 2015. "A "Healthy Immigrant Effect" or a "Sick Immigrant Effect"? Selection and Policies Matter," IZA Discussion Papers 9338, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    2. Hamilton, Tod G. & Hummer, Robert A., 2011. "Immigration and the health of U.S. black adults: Does country of origin matter?," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, pages 1551-1560.
    3. Barry R. Chiswick & Yew Liang Lee & Paul W. Miller, 2008. "Immigrant Selection Systems And Immigrant Health," Contemporary Economic Policy, Western Economic Association International, vol. 26(4), pages 555-578, October.
    4. Devillanova, Carlo, 2008. "Social networks, information and health care utilization: Evidence from undocumented immigrants in Milan," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 27(2), pages 265-286, March.
    5. Bodea, Tudor D. & Garrow, Laurie A. & Meyer, Michael D. & Ross, Catherine L., 2009. "Socio-demographic and built environment influences on the odds of being overweight or obese: The Atlanta experience," Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, Elsevier, vol. 43(4), pages 430-444, May.
    6. Chun, Kevin M. & Chesla, Catherine A. & Kwan, Christine M.L., 2011. ""So We Adapt Step by Step": Acculturation experiences affecting diabetes management and perceived health for Chinese American immigrants," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 72(2), pages 256-264, January.
    7. Urquia, Marcelo L. & Frank, John W. & Glazier, Richard H., 2010. "From places to flows. International secondary migration and birth outcomes," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 71(9), pages 1620-1626, November.
    8. Wang, Lu & Hu, Wei, 2013. "Immigrant health, place effect and regional disparities in Canada," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, pages 8-17.
    9. Iversen, Tor & Ma, Ching-to Albert & Meyer, Haakon E., 2013. "Immigrants’ acculturation and changes in Body Mass Index," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 11(1), pages 1-7.
    10. Iversen, Tor & Ma, Albert & Meyer, Haakon E., 2010. "Immigrants`s acculturation and chanes in body mass index," HERO On line Working Paper Series 2010:3, Oslo University, Health Economics Research Programme.
    11. James Ted McDonald, 2005. "The Health Behaviors of Immigrants and Native-born People in Canada," Social and Economic Dimensions of an Aging Population Research Papers 144, McMaster University.
    12. James Ted McDonald & Jeremiah Neily, 2007. "Immigration, Ethnicity and Cancer in U.S. Women," Social and Economic Dimensions of an Aging Population Research Papers 206, McMaster University.
    13. Averett, Susan L. & Argys, Laura M. & Kohn, Jennifer L., 2012. "Immigration, Obesity and Labor Market Outcomes in the UK," IZA Discussion Papers 6454, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    14. Hamilton, Tod G. & Kawachi, Ichiro, 2013. "Changes in income inequality and the health of immigrants," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, pages 57-66.
    15. Monika Sander, 2008. "Changes in Immigrants' Body Mass Index with Their Duration of Residence in Germany," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 122, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
    16. James Ted McDonald & Steven Kennedy, 2005. "Ethnicity, Immigration and Cancer Screening: Evidence for Canadian Women," Social and Economic Dimensions of an Aging Population Research Papers 145, McMaster University.
    17. Newbold, K.Bruce & Simone, Dylan, 2015. "Comparing disability amongst immigrants and native-born in Canada," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, pages 53-62.

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