Crossroads to Health

Migration entails major lifestyle changes, with implications for social support, stress, new social and cultural norms, and diminished social status. Immigrants in the U.S. tend to have limited access to health care and preventative care, but they tend to be in better health than native-born individuals on arrival. However, with duration of residence in the country of reception, immigrants’ health becomes increasingly similar to that of native-born individuals. Deteriorating health among immigrants is most marked in terms of obesity and diabetes. The origins of increasing risks of obesity and diabetes among immigrants are not well understood. One leading explanation focuses on the adoption of obesogenic products, behaviors, and preferences that are common in the U.S.

The goal of our research is to identify ways in which refugees assimilate into their new communities in ways that may affect their risks of obesity and diabetes. Refugees are an especially disadvantaged immigrant group, having lower levels of education, fewer social networks, having been exposed to dramatic events, being in poorer overall health. We have multiple ongoing projects in relation to Crossroads for Health with opportunities for students and collaborators:

  • Adaptation and Implementation of the CDC’s Diabetes Prevention Program for use with refugee adults in coordination with Oakhurst Medical Center.
  • Data collection in coordination with International Rescue Committee to evaluate knowledge and perceptions of diet among newly-arrived refugee adolescents (10-18).
  • Development and implementation with caseworkers working at the International Rescue Committee (IRC) gathering data on personal food habits and nutritional knowledge as well as methods of introduction of food and diet to incoming families they are assigned to. 

 Led by Dr. Solveig Cunningham of the Hubert Department of Global Health, it includes observational and intervention projects focusing on measuring and addressing risks for chronic disease among newly arrived people in the Atlanta area.

If interested in the project please contact Dr. Solveig Cunningham (sargese@emory.edu)