"We should have stayed at home and lived longer.”
What Does North America Offer Immigrants?
For years, citizens of the United States have enthusiastically welcomed millions of immigrants to their country. But what do they offer them as they sail or fly past the Statue of Liberty? They claim their country provides Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness. But what do immigrants actually receive after arrival in the U.S? And would it have been wiser for them to have stayed in their own country?
Researchers at Ohio University studied 24 men and women who moved to the U.S. from countries all over the world. They discovered that after ten weeks, the new residents had already gained two pounds each. Then, after 20 weeks, they had put on another pound. But this was only the average weight gain.
One male immigrant from Columbia had gained 29 pounds and a woman from Italy had added 12. But Ms.Chen, the lead researcher, reported that the results could have been worse. Some of the immigrants, realizing what was happening, decided to start dieting during the study.
So why had this occurred? Chen decided the main culprit was fast food. But other countries also have fast food outlets, so it wasn’t simply the convenience of fast food that set the stage for obesity. The culprit was cheap fast food. Compared to the rest of the world, U.S. fast food is less expensive than in any other country. Immigrants must spend several dollars for a burger in their native country, but as little as $1.50 in the U.S.
This is not the first study to show that people from other cultures quickly catch up to U.S. citizens when exposed to cheap and super-sized, calorie-dense food portions. And since an expanding waist line can happen to immigrants in a mere few weeks, it’s obvious what must occur during a lifetime.
But if I were an unsuspecting immigrant to the U.S., I’d most likely say, “Wow, what a super country when I can eat hamburgers for just $1.50. It’s even better when my family can go to some restaurants and eat all they want for a single price.” I might think this is as close to Nervana as anyone can get. Why did I stay in my homeland for so many years? They’re right. This is indeed the land of opportunity.
But Life, Liberty, and Pursuit of Happiness would only last so long. Immigrants eventually begin to see they are paying a high price for cheap, fast, food. Slowly, but surely, they are becoming overweight, and finally so obese that they can no longer see their feet.
Even more disastrous, parents see what is happening to their children. They too are part of the American way of life with too many hours spent watching mindless TV, too little exercise, and developing adult diseases in childhood, all a part of a faulty, tragic lifestyle.
For instance, a recent California study revealed 37 percent of Latino children had increased blood cholesterol and 14 percent hypertension. Another study showed 11 percent of adolescents with thickening of the carotid arteries due to atherosclerosis, not previously seen at this age. Moreover, if carotid arteries are becoming blocked, so are coronary vessels.
Unfortunately, like their fellow Americans, immigrants learn there is more to ill health than obesity. This single problem leads to diabetes, which in turn leads to hypertension, blindness, kidney failure, amputation of legs or coronary death.
So the greener U. S. pastures would eventually be not so green after all. They have become citizens of a country that spends vast sums on health care with little to show for it.
Before it is too late they might be wise to say, “The hell with Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness. Why wasn’t the U.S. honest and told us we were about to descend into a medical hell as soon our family raised hands and swore allegiance to the United States of America. Our children may die before us. We should have stayed at home and lived longer.”
W. Gifford-Jones M.D is the pen name of Dr. Ken Walker graduate of Harvard. Dr. Walker’s website is: docgiff.com.
Dr. Walker can be reached at [email@example.com?bcc=letters@canadafree.