Hunger and health among undocumented Mexican migrants in a US urban area

Craig Hadley, Sandro Galea, Vijay Nandi, Arijit Nandi, Gerald Lopez, Stacey Strongarone, Danielle Ompad

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objectives: To measure the occurrence and correlates of hunger and to evaluate the association between hunger and three health indicators among undocumented Mexican immigrants. Design: Non-probability cross-sectional sample. Setting: Neighbourhoods within New York City. Subjects: Four hundred and thirty-one undocumented Mexican immigrants living in the USA. Results: Hunger was indicated by approximately 28% of respondents. In a multivariate model, working as a day labourer was associated with hunger (odds ratio (OR) 3.33, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.83-6.06) while receiving public assistance protected against hunger (OR 0.23, 95% CI 0.06-0.88). In multivariate models, respondents who reported experiencing hunger also reported poorer overall health (OR 1.69, 95% CI 0.95-3.02) and more days of poor mental (P = 0.045) and physical health (P < 0.0001). Greater amount of time lived in the USA was also associated with worse overall health (P = 0.054) and more days of poor mental and physical health (P < 0.01). Conclusions: The present study shows that food insecurity and hunger may be problems among undocumented migrants living in the USA. Uncertain and unpredictable work schedules and limited access to public assistance may contribute to high levels of hunger, which in turn may also negatively affect mental and physical health. Increasing amount of time lived in the USA is also associated with poorer health indicators. Programmes that provide undocumented migrants with emergency access to resources may reduce food insecurity and lead to improved health outcomes among this vulnerable population.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)151-158
Number of pages8
JournalPublic Health Nutrition
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2008


  • Acculturation
  • Food insecurity
  • Food insufficiency
  • Immigrants

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Nutrition and Dietetics
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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