Past studies have shown wide variation in the obesity rates of Asian American ethnic subgroups. However, whether weight-related behaviors that occur during acculturation are associated with obesity disparities among Asian American ethnic subgroups is unknown. This study examines the differences in body mass index (BMI) across Asian American ethnic subgroups and assesses how acculturation and weight-related behaviors influence these differences. The linear regression models employed in this study use data pools from 2011 to 2014 released by the California Health Interview Survey (CHIS). The sample comprises 3,248 foreign-born Asian Americans aged 18–59 years. Asian Americans who spoke fluent English had significantly lower BMIs than those who spoke poor English, but English fluency did not explain body size disparities among Asian American ethnic subgroups. Filipino Americans had the highest average BMI (25.89 kg/m2) and obesity rate (53.12%), and they were particularly prone to engage in unhealthy weight-related behaviors, such as consuming fast food, drinking soda, and engaging in sedentary lifestyles. However, weight-related behaviors did not explain their high risk of obesity compared to other Asian American ethnic subgroups. The results underscore the potential for misinterpretation when pan-ethnic labels, such as Asian American, collapse the unique experiences of different immigrant origin groups. Future research may investigate whether other factors that affect the acculturation process, such as attitudes, self-identity, beliefs, or experiences with racism and discrimination, explain obesity disparities among Asian American ethnic subgroups.
I am very grateful to my student and research assistant, Kylee Granholm, for her tireless assistance in the preparation of this manuscript.
Huang, C.-C. (2019), "The Influence of Acculturation and Weight-related Behaviors on Body Mass Index among Asian American Ethnic Subgroups", Immigration and Health (Advances in Medical Sociology, Vol. 19), Emerald Publishing Limited, pp. 123-144. https://doi.org/10.1108/S1057-629020190000019007Download as .RIS
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