Immigrants´ acculturation and changes in body mass index
HERO WP 2011/03: Authors: Iversen T., Ma AC., Meyer H.E., Department of Health Management and Health Economics, & HERO, Department of Economics, Boston University & Department of Economics, Department of Community Medicine and General Practice, University of Oslo & Norwegian Institute of Public Health (PDF 248 kb)
We study Body Mass Index (BMI) changes among immigrants from Iran, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Turkey, and Vietnam relative to native Norwegians in Oslo. We test a symmetric convergence hypothesis: irrespective of whether an immigrant’s initial BMI is lower or higher than a native Norwegian, acculturation should make the difference in BMI between an immigrant and a native smaller. Convergence is driven by acculturation, which is measured by immigrants’ language skills.
Our data come from two surveys in Oslo 2000-2002. Weights and heights were measured at the surveys; participants were asked to recall weights when they were 25 years old. Norwegian language skills and various socio-economic data were collected. We use multivariate regression analysis. Our findings broadly support the symmetric convergence hypothesis. Proficiency in the Norwegian language tends to make immigrants’ BMI, particularly among females, more equal to native Norwegians. Immigrants’ time of residency has been found to have no impact on changes in BMI.