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Ethn Health. 2013;18(1):66-82. doi: 10.1080/13557858.2012.698255. Epub 2012 Jun 22.

Experiences of migration and the determinants of obesity among recent Iranian immigrants in Victoria, Australia.

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School of Health and Social Development, Deakin University, Melbourne, Australia.



There is evidence to suggest that immigrant groups from low- or medium-human development index countries show a significant adoption of obesogenic behaviors and experience weight gain following migration to Australia. The objective of this study is to understand the changes that Iranian immigrants experience in relation to the determinants of obesity after migration to Victoria, Australia.


We conducted five focus group discussions with 33 recent Iranian immigrants. This study took an interpretive qualitative approach to data analysis using the constant comparative method.


Participants discussed individual level acculturation (e.g., in diet, body size, attitudes), as well as environmental level changes (e.g., physical/structural and sociocultural) that occurred after immigration. Stress during the initial immigration transition, which affected diet and physical activity habits, was a common experience among participants. Gender and the effect of political/religious changes were also important factors. Participants' discourse largely focused on their ability and willingness to adopt positive health behaviors after migration.


This study provides insight into the effect of migration on the determinants of obesity among Iranian immigrants in Victoria, Australia, and offers a contrast with the existing evidence by considering the experience of a group that is generally well educated, often emigrates for reasons related to personal freedom as opposed to material deprivation, and has rates of obesity similar to high-income countries.

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