Original Article

Annals of Behavioral Medicine

, Volume 41, Issue 3, pp 324-332

First online:

Stress Is Associated with Unfavorable Patterns of Dietary Intake Among Female Chinese Immigrants

  • Marilyn TsengAffiliated withDepartment of Kinesiology, California Polytechnic State University Email author 
  • , Carolyn Y. FangAffiliated withFox Chase Cancer Center

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Chinese immigrants experience increased risk for weight gain and chronic disease after US migration. Whether psychosocial stress affects their eating behavior is unknown.


The purpose of this study is to examine psychosocial stress and dietary intake among 426 Chinese immigrant women in the Philadelphia region.


Participants completed 4 days of dietary recalls and questionnaires assessing positive and negative life events in the past year and migration-related stressors.


In hierarchical linear regression models, positive life events were associated with higher energy intake (β = 21.1, p = 0.04). Migration-related stress was associated with lower total gram (β = −11.3, p < 0.0001) and overall grain (β = −0.18, p = 0.03) intake and higher energy density (β = 0.002, p = 0.04) and percent energy from fat (β = 0.06, p = 0.05).


Migration-related stress did not increase overall intake in terms of energy and total grams but selectively increased fat intake and energy density. Such dietary habits may have implications for future chronic disease risk in this immigrant population.


Stress Asian Dietary intake Acculturation