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Food Stress and the Health of Immigrant Populations

Stephanie Bughi, Jennifer Haddad, Vanessa Josef, Michelle Lee, Jesse Tran, Sarah Young, Dr. Julia Borovay, and Joseph Miller
University of Southern California, USA
For many, America represents the land of opportunity, a land of aspirations for a better life and a promising future. Diaspora, the movement of an ethnic group from its land of origin to a new country, characterizes settlement patterns throughout the United States. The increase in globalization has produced a rapid influx of people from different cultures, leading to cultural conflicts, discrimination, language barriers, and isolation from social networks, ultimately triggering acculturative stress. Stress is a hallmark of the American way of life, and, at a qualitative level, the mechanisms contributing to stress affect the lives of recent immigrants to an even greater degree. Food stress, or overeating as a result of external pressures, plays a central role in the development of obesity, a disease that is responsible for the increased prevalence of diabetes, hypertension, and cardiovascular illness (the well-known Metabolic Syndrome). Reducing the impact of food stress will decrease economic burdens of the host country. Improving cultural competency among health care providers and enhancing their understanding of the relation of food stress with acculturation, will strengthen the social support for newcomers. The Latin motto ubi bene ibi patria, where one is well off, there is his country, has applied in the past to immigrant groups throughout the world. We find that many immigrants in the United States, striving to make this country their home, nonetheless need the support of the global community to decrease food stress and its negative consequences.
Food Stress and the Health of Immigrant Populations

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