Acculturation and nutritional health of immigrants in Canada: a scoping review

J Immigr Minor Health. 2014 Feb;16(1):24-34. doi: 10.1007/s10903-013-9823-7.


Although recent immigrants to Canada are healthier than Canadian born (i.e., the Healthy Immigrant Effect), they experience a deterioration in their health status which is partly due to transitions in dietary habits. Since pathways to these transitions are under-documented, this scoping review aims to identify knowledge gaps and research priorities related to immigrant nutritional health. A total of 49 articles were retrieved and reviewed using electronic databases and a stakeholder consultation was undertaken to consolidate findings. Overall, research tends to confirm the Healthy Immigrant Effect and suggests that significant knowledge gaps in nutritional health persist, thereby creating a barrier to the advancement of health promotion and the achievement of maximum health equity. Five research priorities were identified including (1) risks and benefits associated with traditional/ethnic foods; (2) access and outreach to immigrants; (3) mechanisms and coping strategies for food security; (4) mechanisms of food choice in immigrant families; and (5) health promotion strategies that work for immigrant populations.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acculturation*
  • Canada
  • Demography
  • Diet / ethnology*
  • Emigrants and Immigrants*
  • Feeding Behavior / ethnology*
  • Food Preferences / ethnology*
  • Food Supply*
  • Health Promotion / methods
  • Humans
  • Nutritional Status*