Higher prevalence of overweight and obesity among 8-year-olds with immigrant backgrounds
Children with an immigrant background have a greater incidence of overweight and obesity than those without. Parental education level does not seem to affect the results, according to a study by researchers at the NIPH.
This article was published in Norwegian on the 6th September 2023.
Article in BMC Public Health: The influence of immigrant background and parental education on overweight and obesity in 8‑year‑old children in Norway.
Third graders from the Child Growth Study
Height, weight and waist circumference were measured by public health nurses in a nationally representative sample of third graders in the Child Growth Study (in 2010, 2012 and 2015), and data from Statistics Norway about the children and their parents (immigrant background, country of birth and education level) were used. The children were divided into two main groups: those without an immigrant background and those with an immigrant background. Those with an immigrant background were further categorised by region based on country of birth (Western and Northern Europe, Southern and Eastern Europe, and Asia with the exception of South-East Asia, South-East Asia and Africa). Of the 8,858 participants included in the study, 15 % had an immigrant background.
– Parental level of education was used to define socio-economic status. Descriptive analyses were performed to look at differences in the incidence of overweight and obesity for gender and parental level of education, according to immigrant background, explains postdoctoral fellow Bente Øvrebø at NIPH.
Higher incidence among children with an immigrant background
The main analysis used adjusted analyses to find differences in the prevalence of overweight and obesity between children with and without an immigrant background, and to examine the importance of parental education level.
- The analyses showed that children with an immigrant background had a higher prevalence of overweight and obesity than children without an immigrant background. When looking at prevalence by region, the researchers found that children with a background from Southern and Eastern Europe, and Asia without South Asia and Africa, had a higher prevalence of overweight and obesity than children without an immigrant background. Their parents' level of education could explain these differences to a small extent, says Øvrebø.
About the study
Obesity is a risk factor for various non-communicable diseases and is a major challenge for public health. In some high-income countries, the trend of obesity has stabilised. But changes in different subgroups, such as groups with different socio-economic status and migration history among the child population, can accommodate greater variations. In this study, the researchers looked at a large database among 8-year-old boys. The aim was to look at the differences in the prevalence of overweight and obesity among those with and without an immigrant background. It was also an aim to explore whether immigrant region and socio-economic status affect differences in weight status.