Long-term neighborhood ethnic composition and weight-related outcomes among immigrants: The Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis

Félice Lê-Scherban, Sandra S. Albrecht, Theresa L. Osypuk, Brisa N. Sánchez, Ana V. Diez Roux

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Weight among immigrants in the United States (US) is lower than among the US-born on average, but higher among long-term immigrants than the newly arrived. Neighborhood coethnic concentration—the proportion of neighborhood residents of the same ethnic background—may influence weight among immigrants via behavioral norms and market-driven community resources. However, the relevant exposure timeframe may be far longer than is captured by existing cross-sectional and short-term studies. Using detailed historical residential address information on 1449 older Latino and Chinese long-term immigrants, we investigated associations of 10–20-year neighborhood coethnic concentration trajectories with current waist circumference and weight-related behaviors (diet, physical activity, and sedentary time). Among Chinese participants, compared to persistent low coethnic concentration, increasing coethnic concentration was associated with higher waist circumference (difference = 1.45 cm [0.51, 2.39]). In contrast, both increasing coethnic concentration and persistent high coethnic concentration were associated with a healthier diet. Among Latino participants, trajectories characterized by higher coethnic concentration were associated with higher waist circumference (e.g., difference = 2.11 cm [0.31, 3.91] for persistent high vs. persistent low) and low physical activity. Long-term patterns of neighborhood coethnic concentration may affect weight-related outcomes among immigrants in complex ways that differ by ethnicity and outcome.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number102147
JournalHealth and Place
StatePublished - Jul 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by grant 2R01 HL071759 (PI: Diez Roux) and by the Michigan Center for Integrative Approaches to Health Disparities ( P60 MD002249 ) funded by the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities . The Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis is supported by contracts N01-HC-95159 through N01-HC-95169 from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute , and by grants UL1-TR-000040 , UL1-TR-001079 , and UL1-TR-001420 from NCATS . The authors thank the other investigators, the staff, and the participants of the MESA study for their valuable contributions. A full list of participating MESA investigators and institutions can be found at http://www.mesa-nhlbi.org .

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 Elsevier Ltd


  • Diet
  • Immigrants
  • Neighborhoods
  • Physical activity
  • Waist circumference


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