f obesity among foreign-born persons was 8 percent. In contrast, the body mass index of foreign-born respondents living in the United States for at least 15 years approached that of U.S.-born respondents, with 41 percent at normal weight, 38 percent overweight and 19 percent obese compared with 41 percent, 35 percent and 22 percent of the U.S.-born, respectively.
The researchers found that body mass index did not increase substantially until after the foreign-born respondents had lived in the United States for at least 10 years, suggesting a threshold effect.
About 18 percent of foreign-born respondents reported discussing diet and eating habits with a health care provider compared with 24 percent of U.S.-born respondents.
This finding suggests that clinicians may be paying less attention to diet and exercise among some immigrant groups, Goel said.
With the growing immigrant population in the United States, early clinical intervention on diet and physical activity may represent an important opportunity to prevent weight gain, obesity and obesity-related chronic illnesses, the authors said.
Worldwide, obesity (or "globesity," as described by the World Health Organization) has become an epidemic, affecting over 300 million people, with a threefold increase since 1980 in some areas of Europe, the Middle East, Pacific Islands and China. Yet, the prevalence of obesity in most parts of the world is lower than that in the United States.
Goel's co-authors were Ellen P. McCarthy, Russell S. Phillips, M.D., and Christina C. Wee, M.D., Harvard Medical School, Boston.
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