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Mexican immigrants' health declines as they assimilate to America
Date:12/13/2010

Mexican-Americans who are most integrated into the culture -- including those born in the United States, and not recent immigrants -- appear less healthy and more likely to require resources to manage their health conditions than more recent, less-integrated migrants, according to a new study from Rice University, Duke University and the University of Colorado Denver.

In particular, the research reveals that this pattern of declining health among immigrants who are in the U.S. the longest holds more strongly for men than women. Conversely, the research indicates that, among new arrivals, women report poorer health than men.

"Men who have recently migrated from Mexico tend to report better health than women," said Bridget Gorman, associate professor of sociology at Rice and lead author of the study, which was published online this week in the peer-reviewed Journal of Health and Social Behavior. "This could be in part because men are more likely than women to migrate to the U.S. in search of employment -- often in physically demanding jobs -- and at younger ages."

The study examines gender differences in Mexican immigrant health using data from the 1998-2007 National Health Interview Survey.

"The implications of our findings run counter to the popular belief that recent immigrant arrivals are taxing the U.S. health care system," said Jen'nan Read, associate professor of sociology and global health at Duke and co-author of the study.

While men tend to start out healthier than women, their health declines at a faster pace as they adapt to the U.S. culture.

"In particular, the risk of diabetes increases at a strong rate for Mexican-American men, even after we account for a variety of factors that might explain this relationship, such as smoking or income," Gorman said. "Yet, among women, diabetes status appears mostly unrelated to their acculturation level."

Gorman and her co-authors, Read an
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Contact: David Ruth
druth@rice.edu
713-348-6327
Rice University
Source:Eurekalert

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