Birthplace, Years of Residence in the United States, and Obesity Among Mexican-American Adults*

Department of Internal Medicine of the Medical College of Georgia, Augusta, and Boston VA Healthcare System, MA, USA.
Obesity (Impact Factor: 3.73). 04/2007; 15(4):1043-52. DOI: 10.1038/oby.2007.537
Source: PubMed


To evaluate the association between birthplace (Mexico or U.S.) and obesity in men and women and to analyze the relationship between duration of U.S. residency and prevalence of obesity in Mexican immigrants.
We used cross-sectional data from 7503 adults of Mexican descent residing in Harris County, TX, to evaluate the relationships among BMI, birthplace, and years of residency in the U.S., controlling for demographic characteristics, physical activity level, and acculturation level.
U.S.-born adults had an increased risk (between 34% and 65%) of obesity compared with their Mexican-born counterparts. After controlling for recognized confounders and risk factors, this association was maintained in the highly acculturated only. Among highly acculturated obese U.S.-born men, 6% of the cases were attributable to the joint effect of birthplace and acculturation; in women, this proportion was 25%. Among Mexican-born women, there was an increasing trend in mean BMI with increasing duration of residency in the U.S.. Compared with immigrants who had lived in the U.S. for <5 years, Mexican-born women who had resided in the U.S. for >or=15 years had an adjusted BMI mean difference of 2.12 kg/m2 (95% confidence interval, 1.53-2.72).
Mexican-born men and women have a lower risk of obesity than their U.S.-born counterparts, but length of U.S. residency among immigrants, especially in women, is directly associated with risk of obesity. Development of culturally specific interventions to prevent obesity in recent immigrants may have an important public health effect in this population.

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Available from: Michele R Forman, Sep 17, 2014
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    • "Regardless of country of origin, upon arrival, immigrant adults have a lower prevalence of overweight and obesity than their U.S.-born counterparts. This relative advantage dissipates over time [6], and risk for overweight and obesity increases [3–5, 7–9]. The available evidence suggests an overall positive association between body weight variables and the degree of acculturation (cultural, psychological, and behavioral changes that occur when two or more cultures come into continuous first-hand contact with each other [10]) in both children and adults. "
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    ABSTRACT: The aim of this review was to systematically assess the effectiveness of obesity prevention and control interventions in US immigrant populations across the life course, from preschool-age to adults. A systematic review of relevant studies was undertaken and eligible articles included. The initial search identified 684 potentially relevant articles, of which only 20 articles met the selection criteria, representing 20 unique studies. They were divided into interventions that targeted adults (n=7), interventions that targeted children (n=5) and pilot studies (n=8). The majority of interventions targeted Latinos, predominately Mexican-origin populations. Among the interventions targeting adults, five had an effect on obesity related outcomes. However, they tended to use less rigorous study designs. Among the interventions that targeted children, three had a positive effect on obesity-related outcomes. Three of the eight pilot studies had an effect on obesity-related outcomes. There is a paucity of data on effective interventions but a great need to address obesity prevention to help inform health policies and programs to reduce migration-related obesity inequalities.
    Full-text · Article · Jun 2014
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    • "With the exception of Miller et al. [53] and Khan et al. [51], all of the studies reviewed reported generally similar findings indicating an overall positive correlation between acculturation and overweight/obesity. Barcenas et al. [46] and Ahluwalia et al. [45] established positive correlations between acculturation and obesity in Mexican-Americans. The more acculturated the populations were, the higher the average BMI. "
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    ABSTRACT: Background There is evidence to suggest that immigrant populations from low or medium-income countries to high income countries show a significant change in obesogenic behaviors in the host society, and that these changes are associated with acculturation. However, the results of studies vary depending on how acculturation is measured. The objective of this study is to systematically review the evidence on the relationship between acculturation - as measured with a standardized acculturation scale - and overweight/obesity among adult migrants from low/middle countries to high income countries. Methods A systematic review of relevant studies was undertaken using six EBSCOhost databases and following the Centre for Reviews and Dissemination’s Guidance for Undertaking Reviews in Health Care. Results The initial search identified 1135 potentially relevant publications, of which only nine studies met the selection criteria. All of the studies were from the US with migrant populations from eight different countries. Six studies employed bi-directional acculturation scales and three used uni-directional scales. Six studies indicated positive general associations between higher acculturation and body mass index (BMI), and three studies reported that higher acculturation was associated with lower BMI, as mainly among women. Conclusion Despite the small number of studies, a number of potential explanatory hypotheses were developed for these emerging patterns. The ‘Healthy Migrant Effect’ may diminish with greater acculturation as the host culture potentially promotes more unhealthy weight gain than heritage cultures. This appears particularly so for men and a rapid form of nutrition transition represents a likely contributor. The inconsistent results observed for women may be due to the interplay of cultural influences on body image, food choices and physical activity. That is, the Western ideal of a slim female body and higher values placed on physical activity and fitness may counteract the obesogenic food environment for female migrants.
    Full-text · Article · May 2013 · BMC Public Health
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    • "Regardless of the country of origin, upon arrival, Hispanic immigrants are healthier than US-born adults but these health advantages dissipate over time [22]. In particular, studies have shown that overweight and obesity increase with length of stay in the US [23-28]. This rise in weight may be influenced by the “obesogenic” environment of the US, characterized by the availability of energy-dense, palatable, inexpensive foods and limited opportunities for physical activity [23-26,29,30]. "
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    ABSTRACT: Background Identifying risk factors that affect excess weight gain during pregnancy is critical, especially among women who are at a higher risk for obesity. The goal of this study was to determine if acculturation, a possible risk factor, was associated with gestational weight gain in a predominantly Puerto Rican population. Methods We utilized data from Proyecto Buena Salud, a prospective cohort study of Hispanic women in Western Massachusetts, United States. Height, weight and gestational age were abstracted from medical records among participants with full-term pregnancies (n=952). Gestational weight gain was calculated as the difference between delivery and prepregnancy weight. Acculturation (measured via a psychological acculturation scale, generation in the US, place of birth and spoken language preference) was assessed in early pregnancy. Results Adjusting for age, parity, perceived stress, gestational age, and prepregnancy weight, women who had at least one parent born in Puerto Rico/Dominican Republic (PR/DR) and both grandparents born in PR/DR had a significantly higher mean total gestational weight gain (0.9 kg for at least one parent born in PR/DR and 2.2kg for grandparents born in PR/DR) and rate of weight gain (0.03 kg/wk for at least one parent born in PR/DR and 0.06 kg/wk for grandparents born in PR/DR) vs. women who were of PR/DR born. Similarly, women born in the US had significantly higher mean total gestational weight gain (1.0 kg) and rate of weight gain (0.03 kg/wk) vs. women who were PR/ DR born. Spoken language preference and psychological acculturation were not significantly associated with total or rate of pregnancy weight gain. Conclusion We found that psychological acculturation was not associated with gestational weight gain while place of birth and higher generation in the US were significantly associated with higher gestational weight gain. We interpret these findings to suggest the potential importance of the US “obesogenic” environment in influencing unhealthy pregnancy weight gains over specific aspects of psychological acculturation.
    Full-text · Article · Nov 2012 · BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth
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