Food Stress and the Health of Immigrant Populations

By Stephanie Bughi, Jennifer Haddad, Vanessa Josef, Michelle Lee, Jesse Tran, Sarah Young, Julia Borovay and Joseph Miller.

Published by The Global Studies Journal

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

For many, America represents the land of opportunity, a land of aspirations for a better life and a promising future. Diaspora, the movement of an ethnic group from its land of origin to a new country, characterizes settlement patterns throughout the United States. The increase in globalization has produced a rapid influx of people from different cultures, leading to cultural conflicts, discrimination, language barriers, and isolation from social networks, ultimately triggering acculturative stress. Stress is a hallmark of the American way of life, and, at a qualitative level, the mechanisms contributing to stress affect the lives of recent immigrants to an even greater degree. Food stress, or overeating as a result of external pressures, plays a central role in the development of obesity, a disease that is responsible for the increased prevalence of diabetes, hypertension, and cardiovascular illness (the well-known Metabolic Syndrome). Reducing the impact of food stress will decrease economic burdens of the host country. Improving cultural competency among health care providers and enhancing their understanding of the relation of food stress with acculturation, will strengthen the social support for newcomers. The Latin motto “ubi bene ibi patria,” “where one is well off, there is his country,” has applied in the past to immigrant groups throughout the world. We find that many immigrants in the United States, striving to make this country their home, nonetheless need the support of the global community to decrease food stress and its negative consequences.

Keywords: Diaspora, Acculturative Stress, Food Stress

Global Studies Journal, Volume 2, Issue 2, pp.131-142. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.142MB).

Stephanie Bughi

Masters of Science, Masters of Science in Global Medicine, Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, California, USA

Stephanie Bughi earned her Bachelor of Science in Health Promotion and Disease Prevention studies at the University of Southern California (USC). In 2009 she earned her Masters of Science degree in Global Medicine from the Keck School of Medicine, USC. In 2001 she was awarded the Summer Edmondson Fellowship at Keck, and conducted clinical research on stress and diabetes, which was presented at the International Diabetes Federation Congress in France (2003). As an undergraduate student she actively participated on several studies on stress, which were presented at local, national, and international meetings. Her research interests are in the field of stress and eating disorders. The preliminary results of her study were presented at the 2nd World Conference on Stress in Budapest, Hungary (2007). She is also co-founder and Programming Chair of the World Med Global Health Initiative at USC, which focuses on disseminating knowledge related to international health issues and the global burden of disease. She is pursuing a career in the medical profession and her goal is to become a physician-scientist with an expertise in stress disorders and their influence on global health.

Jennifer Haddad

Masters of Science, Master of Science in Global Medicine, Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, California, USA

Jennifer Haddad received her Bachelor’s degree at the University of Southern California (USC) in May 2008. She majored in Health Promotion and Disease Prevention Studies and minored in Natural Science. As a first generation student, Jennifer was the first woman in her family to complete a college degree and is currently pursuing a career in dentistry. Due to her interest in international health, Jennifer traveled to Honduras with other students and medical professionals on a medical brigade trip in January 2008. She participated in the treatment of approximately 1500 people located in the remote area of Yoro, Honduras. She also gained more knowledge about various illnesses and diseases, as well as experienced the lack of health care available to the Honduran citizens. To further her involvement in global medicine, Jennifer serves as the Vice President of USC WorldMed Global Health Initiative and as the External Fundraising Chair on the USC Global Medical Brigades Executive Board. In 2009 Jennifer earned her Masters degree in Global Medicine at the University of Southern California.

Vanessa Josef

Masters of Science, Masters of Science in Global Medicine, Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, California, USA

Vanessa Josef graduated from the University of Southern California (USC) with a Bachelors degree in Health Promotion and Disease Prevention in 2008, and in 2009 earned her Masters degree in Global Medicine from the Keck School of Medicine at USC. In the past year she co-founded a new organization at USC dedicated to educating our academic and neighboring communities about pressing issues in the field of global health and is responsible for the public relations aspect of the club. During her undergraduate studies, Vanessa was a student athletic trainer for USC’s football, men’s tennis, and swimming teams. She assisted in various research projects such as “The Screening for Common Variation in Steroid Hormone Receptor-Associated Genes” which related to breast cancer and “Healthy Campus” which focused on the availability and impact of wellness programs for students, faculty and staff at various universities. Vanessa is pursing a career in the medical profession and her goal is to become a physician.

Michelle Lee

Masters of Science, Masters of Science in Global Medicine, Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, California, USA

Michelle Lee recently earned her Masters of Science degree in Global Medicine at the University of Southern California. Her dual Bachelors of Science degrees in Health Promotion and Disease Prevention and Kinesiology were also awarded from the University of Southern California in August of 2008. Having gained her Bachelor’s degrees, she further explored her public health interest by working in the USC chapter of the Pacific AIDS Education and Training Center, conducting research on HIV prevention methods in the East Los Angeles area. Currently, Michelle is applying to medical school.

Jesse Tran

Masters of Science, Master of Science in Global Medicine, Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, California, USA

Jesse Tran earned his Masters in Global Medicine degree at the University of Southern California in 2009. He graduated in December of 2007 cum laude from the USC College of Letters, Arts, and Sciences with a Bachelors of Science in Biology, minor in Public Health. Mr. Tran’s current interests lie with creating sustainable health care programs to minister to populations in third world countries as well as in the United States. Jesse is now attending the Saint Louis University School of Medicine.

Sarah Young

Masters of Science, Masters of Science in Global Medicine, Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, California, USA

Sarah Brunelli Young graduated with a MS in Global Medicine from the Keck School of Medicine, following completion of her BS in Health Promotion Disease Prevention Studies. Sarah aspires to be a physician focusing on maternal and child health worldwide, with specific interests in HIV/AIDS and neonatal care. Sarah's travels sent her to Honduras for a week long medical brigade, where she served as a bilingual translator, and to Mexico, where she studied health clinics and access to care. Sarah has a passion for medicine and for people, and she has devoted her time to her neighborhood-subsidized clinic, St. John's Well Child Center, and to research in public health intervention. Sarah enjoys leading exercise classes at the gym and working at a local campus cafe. Sarah is eager to begin her future in medicine and believes discourse, education, and positivity are the keys to addressing global health burden.

Dr. Julia Borovay

Lecturer, Institute for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention Research, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, California, USA

Julia G. Borovay, Dr.P.H., is a lecturer in the USC Institute for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention Research [HP]. She teaches three HP courses: Cultural Competency; Culture, Lifestyle, and Health; and Eastern Medicine and Modern Health. Her research interests are in the areas of cultural competence in health care; health belief models, and patient compliance with recommended medical treatment plans. She was formerly project director for the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services pediatric HIV/AIDS surveillance project and for the perinatal hepatitis B prevention program. She recently participated for five years as research ethnographer for a CDC-sponsored intervention study of parental efficacy in a recruited population of low-income mothers through the UCLA Department of Pediatrics and Research Triangle Institute (RTI) International. Dr. Borovay received her M.A. in anthropology at CSU, Chico, and a graduate degree in linguistics from the University of California, Davis. She earned her doctorate in public health from the University of California, Los Angeles.

Joseph Miller

Associate Professor, Cell and Neurobiology, Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, California, USA

Joseph Miller received a Ph.D. in physiological psychology from the University of Texas in 1979. He did a postdoc in dopamine electrophysiology at University of Texas Health Sciences Center in Dallas 1979-1982 and a second postdoc in circadian biology at University of California Riverside and University of California Davis from 1982-1987. In 1984 he became project director for a space shuttle project in primate circadian rhythms out of the University of California. In 1987 he moved to Stanford and became director of neurochemistry for the Stanford-Upjohn Center. In 1994 he moved to Texas Tech Health Sciences Center and left there in 2000 to become director of pharmacology and, more recently, chair of the Core Principles Systems (first semester of medical school) at the Keck School of Medicine at USC. His research focuses on hypothalamic mechanisms in sleep, circadian rhythms, stress and reinforced behavior (e.g. feeding).

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