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

n habits and other items.

The study compared the preventive health behaviors of adolescent Asian and Latino immigrants across three generations to the health habits reported by white adolescents.

Asians generally either maintained or improved their preventive health behaviors across generations, while Latinos showed either poorer preventive behaviors than whites or a worsening of behaviors across generations.

The first generation of Latino teens reported eating more fruits and vegetables, and drinking less soda than white teens. But by the third generation, that trend reversed with Latino teens reporting poorer nutrition habits than their white peers.

Researchers say the nutritional trends are particularly troubling because they may contribute to high rates of obesity seen among the Latino community.

"We need more research to help us understand why successive generations appear to be eating a less healthy diet and how we can better support youth in adopting healthful behaviors," said Dr. Mark Schuster, director of the UCLA/RAND Center for Adolescent Health Promotion and senior author of the report.

The study also found that while first-generation Asian teens reported lower use of bicycle helmets and seat belts and higher levels of television watching and video game playing than white peers, those differences disappeared over the first two generations born in the United States. Asian adolescents also either maintained or improved their better nutrition as compared with whites.

Allen said more research is needed to compare family, school and community influences on health behaviors to better understand why there are differences among racial and ethnic groups with high immigrant populations, even after considering differences in socioeconomic status.

"To help all adolescents from immigrant communities achieve healthy lifestyles, we need a better understanding of the social context that co
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Contact: Warren Robak
oec@rand.org
310-451-6913
RAND Corporation
5-Dec-2006


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