Lifestyle changes of Japanese people on overseas assignment in Michigan, USA
1 Kachigawa Family Clinic, 1-3 Matsushin-cho, Kasugai-shi, Aichi 486-0931, Japan
2 Department of Family Medicine, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, USA
3 Family Practise, American Hospital of Paris, Paris, France
4 Department of General Medicine, Nagoya University Hospital, Nagoya, Japan
Asia Pacific Family Medicine 2009, 8:7 doi:10.1186/1447-056X-8-7Published: 16 July 2009
Temporary work assignments in the United States (US) are widely considered to have negative health outcomes on Asians mostly due to adverse changes in diet and exercise, though there is little research on this phenomenon. This study investigated the impact of lifestyle changes on the biological and psychological health and health behaviours of Japanese people on temporary assignments in the US.
In this cross sectional survey, we distributed a 38 item self-administered questionnaire addressing health habits, mental health function, lifestyle changes and dietary habits to adult Japanese patients presenting for general physicals at a family medicine clinic serving Japanese patients. We conducted simple statistics and regression analysis between length of stay and other health outcomes to determine whether length of residence in the US was predictive of negative lifestyle changes.
Most participants reported increased caloric intake, weight gain, and less exercise. They also reported increased time with family. More women than men reported physical symptoms and anxiety related to stress. Smoking and alcohol intake were essentially unchanged. No associations were identified between length of residence in the US and health lifestyle habits or other health outcomes.
Negative lifestyle changes occur in diet and exercise for overseas Japanese people, but a positive change in increased family time was found. Women appear to be at a greater risk for somatic disorders than men. As duration of stay does not appear predictive of adverse changes, clinicians should advise patients going abroad of these risks regardless of the term of the work assignment.