Health Trajectories and Their Determinants among the Children of Immigrants

Margot I. Jackson, Princeton University

Using data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, I examine trajectories of health behaviors and health conditions, particularly those associated with obesity, among the children of immigrants to the United States. Socially patterned health trajectories are well-documented among adult immigrants, but less is known about their children, many of whom are immigrants themselves. The behaviors and diseases associated with obesity provide a useful case study, given their high prevalence among the U.S. population, even at early ages. First, are the rapid decreases in healthy behaviors and increases in rates of obesity seen among foreign-born adults with increasing time in the U.S. also observed among the younger population? Or does the epidemiologic advantage that immigrants’ children exhibit at birth over their peers persist into adolescence and young adulthood? Secondly, what are the cultural and age-related factors associated with the observed trends?

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Presented in Session 73: Adolescent Health and Wellbeing in Developed Countries