Canada’s bad health habits rub off quickly on immigrants.
“When immigrants first arrive in Canada, they are generally in better health than the native-born Canadians. But this health advantage deteriorates as they live in Canada,” says Katerina Maximova, assistant professor in the department of epidemiology at the school of public health at the University of Alberta in Edmonton.
Maximova and colleagues collected data on the heights and weights of 6,392 schoolchildren in 24 schools in Montreal over a five-year period. They compared how BMI increased among children born outside Canada, children born in Canada to immigrant parents, and children born in Canada to Canada-born parents.
“What was most interesting is that second generation immigrant children lost their health advantage very quickly, so that their BMI increases with age were similar to those of children of parents born in Canada,” Maximova told Metro.
When they arrive in Canada, most immigrants initially settle in low-income, inner-city neighbourhoods, and those are the communities that were included in the study. Unfortunately, such neighbourhoods have higher rates of obesity.
“As they integrate into Canadian society, they may adopt the unhealthy lifestyles of native-born Canadian that live in low-income, inner-city neighbourhoods, such as low levels of physical activity and poor diet,” says Maximova.