Do Immigrant Enclaves Protect Against Harmful Health Behaviors?
Theresa L. Osypuk, Northeastern University
Ana Diez Roux, University of Michigan
Craig Hadley, Emory University
Namratha Kandula, Northwestern University
Prior studies suggest that the context of immigrant enclaves may benefit health. Using data from the Multiethnic Study of Atherosclerosis, we examined whether Hispanic and Chinese Americans (n=1922) living in immigrant enclaves exhibited better or worse health behaviors (smoking, diet, physical activity) than those in neighborhoods with fewer immigrants. Neighborhood enclaves (census tracts) were defined based on the percent of foreign-born from Latin-America, and separately, from China. After adjustment for age, gender, income, education, nativity, and neighborhood poverty, living in a tract with higher proportion foreign-born was associated with lower consumption of high-fat foods in Hispanics and Chinese (P-trend across foreign-born quartiles <0.001 in Hispanics and 0.01 in Chinese), but with being less physically active among Hispanics (P-trend 0.01). No consistent associations were observed for smoking. Residents in immigrant enclaves reported better healthy food availability, but worse safety and social environment. Residence in an immigrant-enclave may not be monolithically beneficial.