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RAND study finds adolescent Asian immigrants improve their good health habits over time

The good health habits of adolescent Asian immigrants improve with each generation born in the United States, but health habits among adolescent Latino immigrants generally remain poor or become worse in succeeding generations, according to a RAND Corporation study issued today.

In a study of California adolescents, the nonprofit research organization found that behaviors designed to prevent health problems -- such as engaging in physical activity and using bicycle helmets, seat belts and sunscreen -- increased among the first two generations of Asians born in the United States. However, adoption of many of these same health habits remained relatively low among adolescent Latinos over generations, the study found.

While the nutritional habits of immigrant Latino teens were better than those of whites, those behaviors grew worse over time, according to the study appearing in the January edition of the American Journal of Public Health.

"The improvement we saw among Asian youth suggests public health messages are reaching this group," said Dr. Michele L. Allen, lead author of the study. "But the trends we see among Latinos, particularly in bicycle helmet use, sunscreen use and nutrition, are troubling and suggest new efforts are needed to ensure the future wellbeing of these teens."

In 2000, one in five children in the United States was an immigrant or born to immigrants, yet relatively little is know about the preventive health behaviors of this group, according to researchers. The RAND Health study is the first to compare an array of health habits across generations for adolescents from the nation's two largest immigrant groups.

Researchers examined information from the 2001 California Health Interview Survey that asked 5,801 adolescents ages 12 to 17 years about their preventive health habits, including use of bicycle helmets and car seat belts, along with physical activity levels, television viewing, nutritio
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Contact: Warren Robak
oec@rand.org
310-451-6913
RAND Corporation
5-Dec-2006


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