Thursday, July 12, 2007

Immigration May be Bad for your Health

The immigration debate: MAN FERTILITY and I were watching the Daily Show, which had clips of all the horrible things people like Pat Buchanan were saying about immigrants being diseased (recycling age-old, pernicious stereotypes). As always, scaremongering with words like TUBERCULOSIS and LEPROSY, without a shred of fact (leprosy!).

Can we stop being so hateful toward one another? Apparently the communities most fearful of immigration (e.g., places like Parker, CO) are the places that are the most white (NY Times story here)!

Watch the Jon Stewart video here.

And then read, from Newswise:

Newswise — USC study finds immigrants from Mexico in better health than Mexicans-Americans born in the United States. Hardy immigrants mask poor vital signs of American-born Hispanic community, say researchers.

Mexicans-Americans born and raised in the United States are more likely to suffer from conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol than those who emigrate from Mexico, according to a new study from the University of Southern California.

The difference may be due to poor nutrition and less physical activity among native-born Mexican-Americans. Also individuals who leave Mexico for the United States may be fitter than the ones who stay behind.

“One possible explanation is that people who immigrate are healthy to begin with and they may also have come here with better health habits,” said Eileen Crimmins, lead author of the study and professor of gerontology at USC. “The generation born here has adopted American traits such as smoking and eating at fast food restaurants that were not as accessible in more traditional parts of Mexico.”

In a comparison of risk factors across ethnic groups, researchers from the USC Davis School of Gerontology and the UCLA School of Medicine found that U.S. born Mexican-Americans are significantly worse off not just than whites but also Mexican-born immigrants. The only group at greater risk for disease than the U.S.-born Mexican-American community is the black population.

The research appears in the current issue of the American Journal of Public Health and addresses a contradiction found in other studies known as the “Hispanic Paradox” – a claim that Hispanics in the United States are healthier than whites despite being poorer and less educated.

...The findings refute the “Hispanic Paradox” and support the hypotheses that people who are not healthy tend to stay in their home country and some immigrants living in America who become sick may return home.

...The conclusion that immigrants are a healthier population group than those living in the United States is reinforced by a second study using NHANES data that focused on immigrants specifically from Mexico. In a study soon to be published in the journal Social Biology, Crimmins’ group also found immigrants born in Mexico that come to the United States are taller and have better childhood nutrition than those who stay in their country of origin. The results indicate that migrants are selected based on health as well as social economic standing.


Susan G said...

Thank you for putting all these sources together. I am appalled by this latest manifestation of American xenophobia. Another way it's showing up is taking the problems with contamination of Chinese imports and turning it into suspicion of everything Chinese.

GreenFertility said...

Thanks, Susan--

Yes, it's like when the drug lobby tried to head off the imported drugs from Canada by making a big stink about how "contaminated" Canadian drugs are--when they did internal testing they didn't find ANY contamination, but 20% contamination in the control group--i.e., the U.S. drugs. figures!

Anonymous said...