Objective: To study the effects of lifestyle variables and socioeconomic status on overweight among native Dutch and immigrants in The Netherlands.
Research Methods and Procedures: Data were used from a survey sample (N = 2551) of native Dutch and immigrant respondents (Surinamese/Antilleans, Turks, and Moroccans). BMI was calculated using self-reported weight and height. Lifestyle variables such as modern food habits (take-out food and eating out) and participating in sports were included, as well as socioeconomic and demographic background variables. Bivariate and ordinary least squares analyses were performed to study BMI and the determinants of overweight among the different groups.
Results: All immigrant groups had a higher prevalence of overweight than the Dutch, except Moroccans. Men were overweight more frequently than women. Take-out food, eating out, and fresh vegetables were related to a decrease in BMI, whereas convenience foods were related to an increase in BMI. For ready-to-eat meals, the results were mixed. In all groups, age was associated with a higher BMI, and a higher level of education was associated with a lower BMI. Immigrants participated in sports less frequently than native Dutch people.
Discussion: One percent to 5% of the total public health costs can be attributed to costs for overweight-related diseases. Public health policies should aim at stimulating healthy lifestyles and discouraging bad food habits through higher taxes on high-calorie foods. In particular, Dutch immigrants should be encouraged to lose weight, because they have a higher risk for overweight-related diseases.