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Can J Public Health. 2009 May-Jun;100(3):215-20.

[Weight, general health and mental health: status of diverse subgroups of immigrants in Canada].

[Article in French]

Author information

  • 1Unité habitudes de vie, Institut national de santé publique du Québec, Montréal, QC.



Recent immigrants to Canada tend to be healthier than the non-immigrant population. Less is known about the health of different ethnic, cultural, and linguistic subgroups of immigrants in Canada.


Data were taken from the 2005 Canadian Community Health Survey (Cycle 3.1). We used multiple logistic regression to examine associations for three immigrant characteristics (1-time since immigration, 2-visible minority status, 3-knowledge of an official language) and three health outcomes (1-self-rated general health, 2-self-rated mental health, 3-body mass index (BMI)) for Montreal, Toronto, and Vancouver, accounting for socio-demographic characteristics.


Recent immigrants belonging to a visible minority have a lower likelihood of reporting poor general (OR 0.72, 95% CI 0.54-0.97) and mental (OR 0.64, 95% CI 0.43-0.96) health and BMI > or = 25 (OR 0.51, 95% CI 0.43-0.61) relative to non-immigrants. These associations were not present for recent immigrants not belonging to a visible minority. Immigrants who cannot converse in an official language have a higher likelihood of reporting poor general health (OR 1.49, 95% CI 1.06-2.10) relative to non-immigrants. In Toronto and Vancouver (but not Montreal), immigrants were less likely to have an elevated BMI.


This study supports a healthy immigrant effect in Canada. However, the healthy immigrant effect is only present in certain subgroups of immigrants. These findings are important for the planning of health services targeting immigrants.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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