The purpose of this paper is to explore the perceived causes of lifestyle and weight changes among first-generation East/Southeast Asians and Hispanics after resettlement in Canada.
Semi-structured interviews with study participants (n=100) and local health professionals (n=6) were conducted. Prominent response themes were identified through a content analysis.
The most common theme was the exposure to an obesogenic environment, such as the more pervasive diffusion of unhealthy food options. Hispanic participants were more likely to report the acquisition of unhealthy food practices and struggled more to maintain their traditional food habits. Time constraints, mostly due to working long hours, were the second most common theme, as participants had little time for making healthier lifestyle choices. The cold weather was considered as a contributor to obesity-leading behaviors and mood disorders. Hispanic respondents were more likely to describe settlement-induced psychological stressors and often compensated feelings of depression and isolation by eating emotionally and increasing the consumption of comfort foods. Weight increases were more likely within the first five years of arrival.
Preventive efforts should include social integration strategies to counter depression, and provide recommendations on feeding times and sleeping habits. Interventions should pay particular attention to Hispanics and recent newcomers.
This study enhanced the understanding of the causes of obesity disparities in Canada by suggesting that the higher prevalence of overweight and obesity among Hispanics may be due to their particular risk of unhealthy dietary and mental health transitions.
The authors would like to thank all the individuals who shared their time and experiences for the purposes of this study. The authors are also extremely grateful to the following organizations that generously offered their help in recruiting study participants: Central Ontario Chinese Cultural Centre, First Mennonite Church, Grace Lao Mennonite Church, Kitchener-Waterloo Taiwanese Canadian Association, Korean Joonim’s Church, Spanish Church of God and the Vietnamese Association KW.
Vitale, M. and Doherty, S. (2018), "Lifestyle and weight changes among immigrants in Canada", International Journal of Migration, Health and Social Care, Vol. 14 No. 4, pp. 439-454. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJMHSC-04-2018-0023Download as .RIS
Emerald Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2018, Emerald Publishing Limited