Race, ethnicity, and immigrant status are important risk factors for weight problems, according to a new study published in The ANNALS of American Academy of Political and Social Science.

Childhood obesity is a growing concern to researchers because of its dangerous ties with hypertension, diabetes, and high cholesterol. This new study explores the connections between socioeconomic status and nationality with weight problems in children in the US and England.

Study authors Melissa L. Martinson, Sara McLanahan and Jeanne Brooks-Gunn say:

“In the United States, both Hispanic and black children of native-born mothers have a higher risk of overweight than children of native-born whites. In England, children of native-born black mothers have a higher risk of overweight, and in some models, children of native-born Asian mothers have a higher risk.”

The researchers analyzed data from 6,816 children from the US and England to assess childhood weight problems among certain populations. Results showed links between weight problems for children and ethnicity and immigrant status. Additionally, it was found that socioeconomic status is only a risk factor for weight issues among white children, and not a deciding factor for children of other races.

The September issue of ANNALS where this study appeared, is devoted solely to the effects of migration on children, an area of study that is often passed over. The aim of this issue was to understand physical, economic, social, and psychological consequences of immigration on children. Generally, migrant youths are ignored by international reports if not enrolled in the labor market.

Immigrants can face many adversities including: unwelcoming communities, new social institutions, places that are unaccustomed to foreigners, and more often than not, a new language. Research focused on these issues and how they effect children’s health has been long overdue.

Written by Kelly Fitzgerald