Immigrant assimilation and BMI and waist size: A longitudinal examination among hispanic and chinese participants in the multi-ethnic study of atherosclerosis

Authors

  • Sandra S. Albrecht,

    Corresponding author
    • Center for Social Epidemiology and Population Health, Department of Epidemiology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA
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    • Disclosure: The authors declared no conflict of interest.

  • Ana V. Diez Roux,

    1. Center for Social Epidemiology and Population Health, Department of Epidemiology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA
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  • Namratha R. Kandula,

    1. Division of General Internal Medicine, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago, Illinois, USA
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  • Theresa L. Osypuk,

    1. Northeastern University, Bouve College of Health Sciences, Boston, Massachusetts, USA
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    • Disclosure: The authors declared no conflict of interest.

  • Hanyu Ni,

    1. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland, USA
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  • Sandi Shrager

    1. Collaborative Health Studies Coordinating Center, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington, USA
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Correspondence: Sandra S. Albrecht (ssalb@unc.edu)

Abstract

Objective

US birth and longer length of US residence among the foreign-born have been linked to higher anthropometric measures. However, previous studies have been cross sectional and few have examined heterogeneity by ethnic group. Cross-sectional findings that show immigrant weight converging to US-born levels with longer time in the United States imply that immigrants' weight is increasing at a faster rate relative to US-born individuals. Prospective studies are necessary to confirm this pattern.

Design and Methods

Using longitudinal data from 1,486 Hispanic and 802 Chinese adults aged 45-84 years in the Multi-ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis, we examined whether foreign-born participants experienced greater increases in BMI and waist circumference (WC) than the US-born over a median follow-up of 5 years. We also investigated heterogeneity in these associations by Hispanic subgroup.

Results

Among Hispanics and Chinese, the foreign-born had a lower adjusted mean BMI and WC at baseline than the US-born, but there were no significant differences in BMI or WC change over time. There was heterogeneity by Hispanic subgroup: despite small baseline nativity differences in WC, foreign-born Mexican Hispanics had a greater annual mean increase in WC over time compared to US-born Mexican Hispanics (mean difference in annual change = 0.28 cm, P = 0.03). There were no nativity differences in the rate of WC increase over time among non-Mexican Hispanics. Foreign-born Mexican Hispanics also experienced a faster rate of WC increase compared to foreign-born non-Mexican Hispanics (mean difference in annual change = 0.24 cm, P = 0.01).

Conclusions

Longer time in the United States, examined prospectively, may only be linked to adverse anthropometric changes in some immigrant groups.

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