Health behaviors of older Chinese adults living in New York City

Nina S. Parikh, Marianne C. Fahs, Donna Shelley, Rajeev Yerneni

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The dramatic increase in the number of older immigrants living in the U.S. presents new challenges to policy makers concerned with promoting healthy aging. To date, however, strikingly little is known regarding the health and health trajectories of older immigrants. This paper examines the prevalence and predictors of important health behaviors associated with chronic disease prevention, including current smoking status, physical activity, alcohol use, and body mass index (BMI). We analyzed data from the 2003 New York City Chinese Health Survey (NYC CHS), the largest probability-based sample of Chinese immigrants residing in two distinct communities. In-person interviews were conducted with 517 representative men and women aged 55-75. Logistic regression modeling was used to test the influence of demographic, socioeconomic status, acculturation, and health characteristics on selected health behaviors. Results revealed that having more education and better physical health status were associated with greater participation in physical activity. Gender-specific analyses indicated that the effect of selected predictors varied between the sexes. For example, among older Chinese women, acculturation was negatively associated with alcohol use. This study provides some of the first evidence on health behaviors of one of the fastest growing older immigrant groups in the U.S. Study results add to the emerging literature on the complex nature of immigrant health trajectories, and demonstrate that contrary to prior research, living a greater proportion of time in the U.S. can be associated with selected positive health behaviors. Further longitudinal studies are needed to help inform policy initiatives to encourage healthy aging among diverse older immigrant groups.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)6-15
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Community Health
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2009


  • Chinese
  • Health behaviors
  • Immigrant populations
  • Older adults

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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