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Is Immigration Good For Your Health?

July 15, 2013
Plain English Version

It is good news that immigrants live nearly three years longer than native-born Americans. In the years ahead this difference is likely to go down.

Recent studies look at:

  • Hispanic immigrants born in Mexico
  • First generation Hispanics born in the U.S.
  • Mexicans still living in Mexico

American born Mexicans are adopting the life styles of all Americans. That means fast foods, sugary drinks and large-size portions. Busy work schedules mean families do not eat together. Parents are not watching their children’s eating habits. Also, more income equals more times eating out.

The result is an explosion of obesity and diabetes among Mexican-Americans.

At first, Mexican immigrants are healthy. Then, they start adopting the food habits of natives. Over time, they start to get American health problems.

And the Mexican diet in Mexico is changing. Up to 40 percent of the diet of rural Mexicans is now coming from packaged foods. “People are no longer growing what they are eating,” one expert said.

In the past, all immigrants had less kidney, cancer and heart disease than all Americans.

Experts see that changing for the worse in the future. One doctor said, “The cultural protection Hispanics had is being eroded.”

The irony is that this is happening in a country where health care is excellent, a country where more is spent on health care than anywhere else in the world.

Another peril to immigrant health is the Affordable Care Act. Undocumented residents and even certain documented residents are not eligible to become part of the program.

Source: The New York Times

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