Diabetes prevalence in shorter vs longer residence migrants

Previous studies have reported that the length of stay in a host country is associated to a higher burden of chronic diseases. Indeed, despite the “healthy migrant” effect, whereby foreign-born people have better health than the native people upon arrival in the host country, this advantage narrows significantly over time, toward the health level of the host population.1

The effect was also seen in two prospective cohort studies focusing on the prevalence of cardio-metabolic risk factors in migrants and on the association of duration of residence and chronic diseases. Both these studies showed a higher prevalence of different chronic conditions (diabetes among them) in foreign-born people with longer residence in the host country.2,3

A possible explanation is the behavioural and lifestyle change from a poor to an affluent environment. In fact, the rates of obesity and physical inactivity were reported to be particularly high among diabetic immigrants of non-Western origin, particularly in women.


  1. Rechel B, Mladovsky P, Ingelby D, Mackenbach JP, McKee M. Migration and health in an increasingly diverse Europe. Lancet 2013;381:1235–1245.
  2. Jatrana S, Pasupuleti SSR, Richardson K. Nativity, duration of residence and chronic health conditions in Australia: Do trends converge towards the native-born population? Soc Sci Med 2014;119:53–63
  3. Commodore-Mensah Y, Ukonu N, Obisesan O et al. Length of residence in the United States is associated with a higher prevalence of cardiometabolic risk factors in immigrants: a contemporary analysis of the National Health Interview Survey. J Am Heart Assoc 2016;5:e004059.