Study shows Colombian immigrants in NYC 49% more likely to be obese than in home country

Study shows Colombian immigrants in NYC 49% more likely to be obese than in home country

A study from City University of New York SPH researchers found that Colombian immigrants in New York City had nearly 50% more obesity prevalence than Colombians in their home country.

In the study, published in BMC Public Health, doctoral graduate Carlos Devia, Associate Professor Karen Flórez, Interim Assistant Dean Sergio Costa and Distinguished Professor Terry Huang also found that Colombian immigrant men in New York City were 72% more likely to have obesity compared to non-immigrant men living in their home country. No significant differences were found in the adjusted models among women.

Using data from the New York City Community Health Survey and the Colombian National Survey of the Nutritional Situation, the research team compared Colombians that immigrated to the U.S. and are living in NYC to non-immigrant Colombians living in their home country. Prevalence ratios for obesity by place of residence were estimated using multi-variable logistic regression adjusting for socio-demographic characteristics and daily consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages.

While Colombians living in NYC experience higher rates of obesity compared to Colombians in their home country, this study also revealed disparities by sex, with significant differences by place of residence found only for men but not for women. The researchers say further research is needed into the biological, behavioral, environmental, and socio-cultural mechanisms underlying such sex disparity.

In a previous study, the research team demonstrated that obesity-related health disparities vary among different groups of Latinos. This study adds to the limited research on obesity among Colombians specifically.

“This study makes a unique contribution to transnational obesity research, particularly for a Latino population in the U.S. that is understudied,” says Dr. Devia. “The findings show that they are experiencing disproportionately high rates of obesity and that any protection among men in Colombia is no longer present after immigration to the U.S. More research is needed to understand the experiences of Colombians in the U.S., including acculturation, racial discrimination and structural barriers.”

More information:
Carlos Devia et al, Insights from a cross-sectional binational study comparing obesity among nonimmigrant Colombians in their home country and Colombian immigrants in the U.S., BMC Public Health (2023). DOI: 10.1186/s12889-023-16322-2

Journal information:
BMC Public Health

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