Millions of U.S. tax money wasted on studying eating habits of refugees

Last year we reported that the National Institutes of Health was spending more than $1.6 million on an exercise program for immigrants and refugees.

The program was called the “Healthy Immigrant Families: Working Together to Move More and to Eat Well.”

It was a 5 year study trying to create a sustainable, socio-culturally appropriate physical activity initiative for refugees in the U.S.  Unfortunately, you will see the money was wasted (scroll to bottom).

The entire research study was based on the claim that immigrants and refugees are healthier than Americans when arriving to the United States, but once they’re here for a while it all falls apart for them.  The concern is they adopt the bad eating habits of Americans.  Before long, they are fat and unhealthy like the rest of us.

HERE’S THE DESCRIPTION SUBMITTED BY THE RESEARCHERS

DESCRIPTION (provided by applicant): Across many measures, immigrant and refugee populations arrive to the US healthier than the general population, but the longer they reside in the US, the more they approximate the cardiovascular risk profiles of the general population. These declines are mediated, in part, by less physical activity and lower dietary quality upon immigration among both adults and their children. Given the complex socio-cultural forces that influence these behaviors, a community-based participatory research (CBPR) approach is called for to address them.

The Rochester Healthy Community Partnership is a robust CBPR partnership in Rochester, Minnesota consisting of community-based organizations, health service organizations, and academics who are experienced at collectively deploying programming and outcomes assessment among immigrant and refugee populations. Community and academic partners have shared the responsibility of preparing this project.

The specific aims are:
1) To develop a sustainable, socio-culturally appropriate physical activity and nutrition intervention with and for immigrant and refugee families, and

2) to evaluate the efficacy of the physical activity and nutrition intervention. The intervention framework is a series of home-based, individualized family mentoring and education session for physical activity and nutrition led by trained Family Health Promoters from each of the participating immigrant and refugee communities (Hispanic, Somali, Sudanese, Cambodian) with opportunities for group activities.

Using a two-group randomized design, 160 individuals (including both adults and adolescents) will be randomly assigned to receive the intervention either immediately or after a delay of one year. Primary outcomes assessed in both adults and adolescents, measured up to two years after implementation, will include physical activity as measured by accelerometry and dietary change as measured by 24 hour dietary recalls. Secondary outcomes will include changes in body mass index, body composition, blood pressure, waist-hip ratio, and health-related quality of life. Innovative approaches that arise organically from the affected communities are needed to create and sustain interventions that promote healthy behaviors. The use of CBPR will enhance the relevance of this program by targeting socio-cultural determinants of physical activity and nutrition.

This project will broadly explore the efficacy of community participation in the design and implementation of an intervention to improve physical activity and nutrition among a demographic whose health is critical to the future of this country,” the grant said. “Given that over one million immigrants and refugees arrive in this country each year, the potential impact of this work on public health is considerable.

The project, which began in 2012 and continued through 206, received $1,679,030 from U.S. taxpayers. The Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., conducted the study.

As the Washington Free Beacon reported last year,  “contrary to the notion that refugees are healthier than Americans, many had health problems, according to state records. Twenty-two percent who directly settled in Minnesota had Tuberculosis; 15 percent had a parasitic infection; 7 percent elevated blood lead; 5 percent had Hepatitis B; and 1 percent had Syphilis.

Among secondary arrivals, or refugees who originally resettled to another state in the United States before moving to Minnesota, 32 percent had Tuberculosis, and 12 percent had a parasitic infection.”

So what was the conclusion?

Mayo Clinic didn’t take the time to post the conclusion on the government website.  But after a little digging we found the final results on another website.  See below…

“In summary, competing priorities, cost, transportation concerns, embarrassment about using unfamiliar clothes and exercise techniques in public, fear of harassment, winter weather and less daily walking opportunities were seen as barriers to optimal physical activity among Somali men. These barriers may be mitigated by existing positive attitudes about the importance of physical activity, exposure to success stories in their community, and community cohesion towards a common goal. These findings may be used as cues to action for CBPR partnerships and public health agencies to derive interventions aimed at promoting physical activity among Somali immigrant and refugee men.”

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