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Life in U.S. Not Always a Plus for Immigrants' Health

MONDAY, Oct. 31 (HealthDay News) -- The longer they live in the United States, the more likely it is that Hispanic immigrants will develop health problems, a new study says.

Researchers analyzed 2007-08 data from the U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey and discovered a dramatic increase in obesity, diabetes and hypertension rates among Hispanic immigrants who have lived in the United States for more than 20 years.

Compared to those who have lived in the United States for fewer than 10 years, Hispanic immigrants who are U.S. residents for more than 20 years are 98 percent more likely to be obese, 68 percent more likely to have hypertension, and nearly 2.5 times more likely to have diabetes, according to the researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

The study results, scheduled for release Monday at the annual meeting of the American Public Health Association, were based on body mass index (BMI), blood pressure and diabetes measurements. Because this study was presented at a medical meeting, the data and conclusions should be viewed as preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.

The researchers took into account age, gender, education, income and other factors that could influence the likelihood of being obese or having hypertension or diabetes.

"The findings make a clear connection between communities and health. When we take a broad, comprehensive look at the communities in which U.S. immigrants live and their health status, we see that minority immigrants and their families can disproportionally experience barriers to good health. And that's troubling," lead researcher Leslie Cofie, a doctoral candidate at the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health, said in an APHA news release.

"There needs to be more work done to address the full spectrum of factors that influence health outcomes among racial and ethnic groups, including minority immigrants," Cofie added.

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more about Hispanic/Latino populations.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: American Public Health Association, news release, Oct. 31, 2011

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