Surprise! People Who Live In Neighborhoods With More Immigrants Eat Healthier And Weigh Less
New research has emerged, showing that people who live in neighborhoods that boast a larger immigrant population eat better than those that don’t. For all of us who’ve lived in neighborhoods with a considerable immigrant population, this news is probably as startling as the revelation that water is wet. But, it’s important that bona fide research is conducted on the things that we already feel in our gut – in this case, literally – because it proves that, yes, we have good reason to think the things that we do.
Give us the highlights of the study.
The researchers found three main things when they conducted the study. Firstly, that native-born Americans who live in neighborhoods with a higher immigrant population tend to eat less fast food and more fruit and vegetables than their less-immigrant-populated counterparts. Secondly, that those same native-born Americans have lower body mass indices, or BMIs. And thirdly, that these native-born Americans swimming in immigrant neighbors also have lower rates of hypertension. Okay, maybe we’re exaggerating that last part – there’s no swimming needed. But, the lower rates of hypertension still stand.
Whether you prefer Japanese, Korean, Mexican, Ethiopian – you’ll still see the benefits.
The great thing is that it doesn’t matter what kind of immigrants set up shop in your neighborhood, native-born Americans still see the benefit. “In places with a high density of immigrants, whether it’s Latino immigrants or Asian immigrants, their native-born neighbors also go shopping a lot in those ethnic grocery stores, like those Mexican supermarkets or Chinese supermarkets. They buy fruits and vegetables at significantly lower prices than they would get at places like Walmart or Trader Joe’s,” Lu Shi, the lead author of the paper, said.
Okay but there could be a lot of other reasons for why people in immigrant neighborhoods are healthier!
Here’s the beautiful thing: the study controlled, or took into account, things like socioeconomic status, race, ethnicity, and the level of education the respondents had received. So when the next neckbeard trolling on social media tries to argue with the findings, you can confidently say that the researchers know their stuff, and have ticked the boxes when it comes to conducting a legitimate study. In fact, you can even throw in the phrase, “the healthy immigrant effect,” to show that you’ve really done your homework. Essentially, it’s the tendency for US immigrants to have better health than their native-born counterparts.
There is one caveat: the study was conducted only on LA neighborhoods.
Now that being said, the study was conducted in Los Angeles County neighborhoods, so it’s possible that the findings have only revealed something that’s true for Los Angeles County. Chances are that the researchers will have to look into testing other neighborhoods before they can say for sure that they’ve truly stumbled onto a winner. But that’s not going to stop us proposing to the Trump administration that they need to reconsider their stance on immigration. Who’s to say now that stationing a few immigrant families in every neighborhood won’t improve the nation’s health?
Naturally, Twitter’s got the receipts: we’ve always known immigrants are good at eating healthy.
Even though this savvy user was commenting way back in 2014, the statement still stands. If Barack Obama had gotten everyone on a diet of immigrant food, everyone would now not only be healthier, but also probably happier. We’re pretty sure it’s scientifically impossible to be unhappy after eating a delicious taco/dumpling/massaman curry.
This babe is on the money.
While the respondents for the study were still indulging in less-than-healthy practices, native-born Americans living in an area with a higher immigrant population had 67 percent lower odds of regularly eating fast food, and 64 percent higher odds of eating the recommended daily intake of fruit and vegetables, as per the guidelines from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
It’s not just about the fact that immigrants eat healthier, they are healthier, too.
The interesting thing is that this commenter isn’t wrong. It’s not just about the fact that immigrants eat healthier, they are healthier, too. This is something that the paper’s lead author points out – on average, Latina women smoke at lower rates than their peers, so it stands to reason that they lead by example and create a culture of non-smoking. By extension, it’s these “contagious” social norms that may factor into why native-born Americans living in immigrant-dense neighborhoods in the study were healthier: they’ve caught the bug of living healthy, so to speak.
Before you get all excited and haul your butt to the Korean barbecue joint down the road with the justification that it’s healthy, we should probably point out Shi’s little caveat: “Ethnic food outlets, like the Mexican lunch truck, the Chinese barbecue that you see on New York streets, those are not necessarily healthier than McDonald’s, KFC.” Sorry babes.
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