Friday, June 22, 2012

Immigrant families suffer high risk of child obesity

Children in families with non-native ethnicity are more likely to become overweight and obese, according to the results of a survey in seven European countries published in a scientific paper today in the journal Pediatric Obesity. This study was part of the ENERGY project on which I have reported here before.  While obesity levels are quite high to ver high among children across Europe, we found the levels are generally higher among children who have a non-native mother tongue, or whose parents who were born in another country.
We have found several possible causes of the difference between native and non-native families.The consumption of soft drinks tends to be higher in children from non-native families, and regular meals such as breakfast may get skipped more often. The children also watch more television and participate in less sporting activity. However, they do walk or cycle to school more often.
Cultural and lifestyle differences need to be set in the context of family resources, including skills and education but also financial resources and access to support and health information, we believe. Lower educational status is a risk factor for obesity in all communities, and is a contributory factor for these families.We should also recognise that the differences between native and non-native families is smaller than the differences between families in southern and northern Europe as we showed in an earlier publication. National factors matter more than immigration status.
Please click the following links for some press coverage in the Netherlands and Belgium of our study.