The Health Behaviors of Immigrants and Native-born People in Canada
This paper analyzes the incidence of participation in various activities generally expected to have an impact on current and future physical health. Attention is focused on the incidence of these activities among immigrant and minority groups compared to native-born white Canadians. Immigrants generally exhibit significantly lower rates of alcohol consumption, binge drinking, and daily smoking but also lower participation in vigorous physical activity and consumption of fruit and vegetables. Differences are particularly pronounced for immigrants from Asia and Africa, and this is true for both men and women. For most immigrant men, alcohol consumption and smoking both increase with years in Canada, ceteris paribus, and in the case of immigrants from Europe and the USA, reach native-born white levels after between 10-20 years in Canada. For other immigrant men, the incidence of alcohol consumption remains low even for long-term residents of Canada. Interestingly, there is no significant change with years-since-migration in any of the health behaviors for immigrant women. Canadian born members of visible minorities also display significantly lower rates of alcohol consumption, smoking and (for women) vigorous physical activity than native-born whites, although these rates were still higher than for immigrants from Asia and Africa. Finally, native- born white lifestyle choices are found to exert a significant positive influence on the behaviors of immigrants and native-born minorities who are residents of the same province.
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