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Aug 05, 2014 06:54 AM EDT

Immigrant Children More Likely to Adopt Sedentary Lifestyles, Study

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Immigrant children are more likely to adopt a sedentary lifestyle as compared to U.S.-born white children, according to a new study by the Rice University.

Sociologists said that children belonging to Asian immigrant families were nearly three times more likely to have lower levels of physical activity than U.S.-born white children, while those of Hispanic immigrants and other ethnicities are nearly two times as likely.

The researchers examined data from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, which surveyed 17,510 kindergarteners.

The researchers found higher rates of physical activity in U.S.-born white children than those from minority backgrounds in the country. U.S.-born black children were 1.35 times more likely to be associated with lower levels of physical activity, U.S.-born Hispanic children 1.23 times more likely and U.S.-born children of other ethnicities were 1.52 times as likely.

"Children in immigrant families are at particular risk for low levels of physical activity, which we were unable to explain with a host of factors relating to family and neighborhood characteristics," said Rachel Kimbro, an associate professor of sociology and the study's co-author, in a press release.

"These children comprise a growing population of American youth, and failing to address the low levels of physical activity among this group could have important long-term health consequences as this population transitions into adolescence and adulthood," said Mackenzie Brewer, a doctoral student in sociology and the study's lead author.

The researchers asked pediatricians and parents in immigrant families to encourage physical activity among children. They hope that the finding will promote more research on physical activity among children across racial and ethnic backgrounds.

The study titled, "Neighborhood Context and Immigrant Children's Physical Activity", will be published in the journal Social Science and Medicine.

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