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Childhood Weight Problems Linked To Immigration

By Rob Poulos...

A growing concern among scientists and researchers over the last decade has been childhood weight problems. Because of its links with hypertension, high cholesterol and diabetes, it’s become a worldwide concern. A new study conducted recently explores the relationship between a child’s social and economic status along with nationality among children in the US and England. According to the study published in The ANNALS of American Academy of Political and Social Science, race, ethnicity and immigrant status are all factors that go into a child’s weight problems,

Authors Melissa L. Martison, Sara McLanahan and Jeanne Brooks-Gunn explain that in the US, Hispanic and black children who had native born mothers experience a higher chance of being overweight than do the children of native-born whites. In England, the children of a black mother native-born will have a higher risk of being overweight also, and in some cases, this is true of native born Asian mothers and their children, too.

Research was taken on almost 7,000 children from the US and England to analyze childhood weight issues among certain populations of the country. The results showed connections among children with specific ethnic backgrounds and immigration statuses. Moreover, this study found that the socioeconomic status is only a consideration for weight issues with white children and not an issue with children of other races.

In the September installment of ANNALS where the study was found, the entire issue is devoted to the often overlooked effects that come from migration on children. The purpose of the issue was to explain the physical, social, financial and psychological results that come from immigration and the results they have on children. For the most part, children who move around are ignored by worldwide reports if they are not employed and a part of the labor markets.

For those immigrating from one part of the world to another, the problems can be many. Among them include communities that do not accept newcomers, new customs and places to become accustomed to, and neighbors that are not used to foreigners. Add to that learning a new language, as is often the case, and the task of moving can be daunting.

Research exploring these issues and how they can effect a child’s health and eating patterns has been needed for quite a few years. In many cases, depression can be caused from situations of immigration, driving children to seek solace in foods. While they may have been active in their previous countries, participating in sports and other activities, when they move to new cultures and areas, they may be reticent to join in. This inactivity helps lead to conditions of overweight and can be hard to rectify once the new patterns have been set. In an effort to be accepted in new locations, children may also adapt the same bad habits of the local children, eating foods filled with additives and fillers that were not present in their native foods. This, too, can lead to added weight.

With studies like the one recently conducted, these issues can be addressed with new immigrants in the area before they become a problem.

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