Immigrant Children Less Active Than US Born

Ruzanna Harutyunyan's picture

Immigrant children are less likely than U.S.-born children to exercise regularly or participate in sports and other physical activities, according to a study published on Monday in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, the AP/Washington Times reports. For the study, lead researcher Gopal Singh and colleagues at HHS' Maternal and Child Health Bureau conducted telephone interviews between 2003 and 2004 with the parents of nearly 70,000 white, black, Hispanic and Asian immigrant children ages six to 17.

The study -- considered to be the largest on the issue -- found that nearly 18% of foreign-born children with immigrant parents did not get any vigorous exercise each week and 56% did not take part in any team sports or games. By comparison, 11% of U.S.-born children with U.S.-born parents did not exercise regularly and 41% did not participate in organized sports. When the researchers combined the data for all the immigrant children, they found that 65% were physically active, compared with 75% of the U.S.-born children.


The study also found that the inactivity rate for Hispanic children was 23%; 13% for black children; 10% for whites; and 7% for Asian children. The rate of children who did not participate in organized sports was about 66% for Hispanic children; 49% for blacks; 38% for Asians; and 32% for whites. The researchers noted that the parents often are not well-informed about their children's activity levels. The researchers said additional studies will be required to verify the findings of Asian children because there were comparatively fewer Asians involved in the survey.


According to the AP/Times, the researchers explained the results by noting that immigrant families generally lived in low-income areas and less-safe neighborhoods, leading to less time and fewer outlets to pursue exercise and sports. In addition, the researchers noted that many immigrant parents place greater emphasis on reading, language lessons, studying and other sedentary pursuits. The study also found that immigrant children were not regular television viewers (Tanner, AP/Washington Times, 8/5).

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