Factors Influencing Body Mass Index Among Immigrant and Non-Immigrant Canadian Youth: Evidence From the Canadian Community Health Survey Thesis uri icon

  • Overview


  • Background: Over the past two decades the prevalence of childhood obesity has reached epidemic proportions. In Canada recent population growth has relied heavily on immigration. In some instances, immigrant youth exhibit better health overall and may be at less risk for obesity. There is a paucity of literature on the health of immigrant youth in Canada.

    Objectives: The objectives of this study are: (i) to examine differences in body mass index and prevalence of overweight/obesity between immigrant versus non-immigrant youth and (ii) to identify the extent to which (a) lifestyle and (b) socio-demographic factors, account for between-group differences.

    Methods: Data for this study was obtained from the Canadian Community Health Survey (CCHS). The associations between standardized BMI score (zBMI) and prevalence of overweight/obesity, immigrant status, socio-demographic and lifestyle covariates were analyzed using multilevel linear and logistic regression, respectively.

    Results: The CCHS sample included 63509 participants, aged 12 to 19 years. 6.4% respondents identified themselves as being born outside of Canada. Immigrant youth had a lower zBMI by 0.441 compared to Canadian-born youth (p < 0.001). The odds of being overweight/obese were 34% lower (OR 0.66, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.45, 0.86) among immigrant versus non-immigrant respondents. Measures of diet, activity level and sedentary behaviour did not account for the differences in body composition between immigrant and Canadian born youth.

    Conclusion: Immigrant youth had a lower rate of overweight/obesity and lower zBMI scores compared to Canadian-born youth.

publication date

  • June 2012