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Immigrants`s acculturation and chanes in body mass index


  • Iversen, Tor

    () (Institute of Health Management and Health Economics)

  • Ma, Albert

    () (Department of Economics, Boston University)

  • Meyer, Haakon E.

    () (Section of Preventive Medicine and Epidemiology)


We study Body Mass Index (BMI) changes among immigrants from Iran, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Turkey, and Vietnam relative to native Norwegians in Oslo. We test a symmetric convergence hypothesis: irrespective of whether an immigrant’s initial BMI is lower or higher than a native Norwegian, acculturation should make the difference in BMI between an immigrant and a native smaller. Convergence is driven by acculturation, which is measured by immigrants’ language skills. Our data come from two surveys in Oslo 2000-2002. Weights and heights were measured at the surveys; participants were asked to recall weights when they were 25 years old. Norwegian language skills and various socio-economic data were collected. We use multivariate regression analysis. Our findings broadly support the symmetric convergence hypothesis. Proficiency in the Norwegian language tends to make immigrants’ BMI, particularly among females, more equal to native Norwegians. Immigrants’ time of residency has been found to have no impact on changes in BMI.

Suggested Citation

  • 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.
  • Handle: RePEc:hhs:oslohe:2010_003

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. 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.
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    Cited by:

    1. 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.

    More about this item


    Obesity; Body Mass Index (BMI); immigrants; acculturation; Norway;

    JEL classification:

    • I12 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health Behavior
    • I18 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Government Policy; Regulation; Public Health


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