Physical and Mental Health Characteristics of U.S. and Foreign-born Adults, 1998-2003

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Immigrant Health

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a new report on March 1, "Physical and Mental Health Characteristics of U.S. and Foreign-Born Adults, 1998- 2003."

The report from CDC's National Center for Health Statistics is based on six years of data from the National Health Interview Survey. The main finding is that immigrants reported significantly better physical and mental health, such as lower rates of obesity and high blood pressure, than their U.S.-born counterparts despite having limited access to health care and little or no health insurance.

Other findings:

  • These immigrants become less healthy the longer they reside in the United States.

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  • Twenty-two percent of Hispanic immigrants living in the United States for five years or longer were obese, compared to 16 percent of Hispanic immigrants residing in the United States for less than five years.

  • Compared with their more recent immigrant counterparts, Hispanic immigrant adults living in the United States for five or more years were also more likely than those who'd lived here less than five years to have high blood pressure (20 percent vs. 13 percent) and cardiovascular diseases (5 percent vs. 4 percent).

  • Similar to Hispanic immigrant adults, immigrant black and Asian adults also reported better physical and mental health than their U.S.-born counterparts.

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