Social and cultural factors underlying generational differences in overweight: a cross-sectional study among ethnic minorities in the Netherlands

K. Hosper, M. Nicolaou, I. van Valkengoed, V. Nierkens, K. Stronks

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ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND: The prevalence of overweight appears to vary in people of first and second generation ethnic minority groups. Insight into the factors that underlie these weight differences might help in understanding the health transition that is taking place across generations following migration. We studied the role of social and cultural factors associated with generational differences in overweight among young Turkish and Moroccan men and women in the Netherlands. METHODS: Cross-sectional data were derived from the LASER-study in which information on health-related behaviour and socio-demographic factors, level of education, occupational status, acculturation (cultural orientation and social contacts), religious and migration-related factors was gathered among Turkish and Moroccan men (n=334) and women (n=339) aged 15-30 years. Participants were interviewed during a home visit. Overweight was defined as a Body Mass Index [greater than or equal to] 25 kg/m2. Using logistic regression analyses, we tested whether the measured social and cultural factors could explain differences in overweight between first and second generation ethnic groups. RESULTS: Second generation women were less often overweight than first generation women (21.8% and 45.0% respectively), but this association was no longer significant when adjusting for the socioeconomic position (i.e. higher level of education) of second generation women (Odds Ratio (OR) = 0.77, 95%, Confidence Interval (CI) 0.40-1.46). In men, we observed a reversed pattern: second generation men were more often overweight than first generation men (32.7% and 27.8%). This association (OR=1.89, 95% CI 1.09-3.24) could not be explained by the social and cultural factors because none of these factors were associated with overweight among men. CONCLUSIONS: The higher socio-economic position of second generation Turkish and Moroccan women may partly account for the lower prevalence of overweight in this group compared to first generation women. Further research is necessary to elucidate whether any postulated socio-biological or other processes are relevant to the opposite pattern of overweight among men
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)105
JournalBMC public health
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2011

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