Trying to fit-in, immigrants and their U.S.-born children eat fast-foods and fatty U.S. cuisine and ending up packing on pounds, according to a recent study.

The large meal portions and cheap availability of high-calorie junk food means that immigrants  approach other U.S. levels of obesity within 15 years of their move, the study says.

"People who feel like they need to prove they belong in a culture will change their habits in an attempt to fit in," said Sapna Cheryan, an author and assistant professor of psychology at the University of Washington. 

The results of the study were published in the June issue of Psychological Science.

Maya Guendelman, a co-author of the study whose parents emigrated from Chile, said her own mother would often pack healthy school lunches when they first moved to the U.S. – and that made her feel very self-conscious.

“I remember wanting lunches that would make me feel more mainstream," said California native Guendelman, a psychology graduate student at the University of California at Berkeley.

Studies have shown diets of immigrants from Central and South America – as well as those that come from Asia and Africa – deteriorate the longer they stay in the United States

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