An interesting phenomenon – the healthy immigrant effect (HIE) – has been observed in many countries, such as Canada, the United States, and Great Britain (Kennedy, McDonald & Biddle 2006). That is, immigrants entering these countries are typically healthier than native-born citizens. Yet, although a clear health gap separates native-born Canadians from new immigrants, it gradually dissipates to the point where the two groups exhibit similar levels of health (McDonald & Kennedy, 2004). Why people who have consistently enjoyed high levels of health for much of their lives would experience such a marked decrease is rather puzzling, but two major contributing factors have been identified – problems in access to healthcare and acculturation – which will be the focus of the following discussion. The former works against immigrants’ health by impeding their access to both preventative and therapeutic care. The latter compounds this effect by creating new and unhealthy behaviours in immigrants, while at the same time acting as a barrier...
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Unger, Jennifer B. et al. 2004. “Acculturation, physical activity, and fast-food consumption among asian-american and hispanic adolescents.” Journal of Community Health 29:467-481.
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