Immigration and Generational Trends in Body Mass Index and Obesity in the United States: Results of the National Latino and Asian-American Survey (NLAAS), 2002-2003

Lisa M. Bates, Columbia University
Dolores Acevedo-Garcia, Harvard University
Margarita Alegria, Harvard University and Cambridge Health Alliance
Nancy Krieger, Harvard School of Public Health

Estimates of body mass index (BMI)/obesity in the U.S. rarely consider differences by nativity or country of origin. Using the National Latino and Asian-American Survey (NLAAS) 2002-2003, we generated nationally representative estimates of mean BMI and obesity prevalence and explored changes in the distribution of BMI with generation in the U.S. Analyses tested the association between generation status and BMI, and examined whether this association varied by ethnicity, education, and gender. We found substantial heterogeneity in BMI/obesity by country of origin and an increase in BMI with generation, overall and among most subgroups. The data suggest different patterns for Latinos and Asian-Americans in the nature and degree of distributional changes in BMI with generation in the U.S. Aggregate estimates not accounting for nativity and country of origin may mask significant heterogeneity in the prevalence of obesity and patterns of distributional change, with implications for prevention strategies.

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Presented in Session 85: Immigrant Health