Overeating and binge eating among immigrants in the United States: new terrain for the healthy immigrant hypothesis

Christopher P. Salas-Wright, Michael G. Vaughn, Daniel P. Miller, Hyeouk Chris Hahm, Carolina Scaramutti, Mariana Cohen, Jorge Delva, Seth J. Schwartz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Prior research indicates that, compared to individuals born in the United States (US), immigrants are less likely to experience mental health and inhibitory control problems. However, our understanding of overeating and binge eating—both related to mental health and inhibitory control—among immigrants in the US remains limited. Drawing from a large national study, we report the prevalence of overeating and binge eating among immigrants vis-à-vis the US-born. Methods: The data source used for the present study is the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions (NESARC-III, 2012–2013), a nationally representative survey of 36,309 civilian, non-institutionalized adults ages 18 and older in the US. Logistic regression was employed to examine the relationship between immigrant status and key outcomes. Results: The prevalence of any (immigrants = 7.8%, US-born = 17.0%) and recurrent overeating (immigrants = 2.9%, US-born = 5.3%) was lower among immigrants than US-born individuals. Among those reporting recurrent overeating, the prevalence of binge eating with loss of control was comparable among immigrant (37.2%) and US-born participants (39.9%), in general. However, stratified analyses revealed that risk of binge eating with loss of control was lower among immigrant women compared to US-born women (AOR 0.54, 95% CI 0.29–0.98). Conclusions: Findings from the present study provide clear results that immigrants are substantially less likely to overeat as compared to US-born individuals and that, among women but not men, immigrant status is associated with lower risk of binge eating with loss of control.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1007-1017
Number of pages11
JournalSocial Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 2019 Aug 12

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019, Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Epidemiology
  • Social Psychology
  • Health(social science)
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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