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Keywords:

  • Child health;
  • overweight;
  • obesity;
  • transients and migrants

Summary

To review the prevalence regarding overweight and obesity among children and adolescents from migrant and native origin within Europe, a systematic review (1999–2009) was performed, using Embase, PubMed and citation snowballing. Literature research resulted in 19 manuscripts, reporting studies in six countries, mostly situated in Western and Central Europe.

From this review, it appears that, in most of the European countries for which data are available, especially non-European migrant children are at higher risk for overweight and obesity than their native counterparts. The prevalence of overweight in migrant children ranged from 8.9% to 37.5% and from 8.8% to 27.3% in native children. The prevalence of obesity in migrant children ranged from 1.2% to 15.4% and from 0.6% to 11.6% in native children. Some limitations of the review are discussed, especially the problematic classification of migrant and native children.

Apparently, migrant children display an even more sedentary way of life or adverse dietary patterns, as compared with native children. To what degree these differences can be explained by socioeconomic and cultural factors remains to be investigated. As overweight and obese children are at risk for many chronic health problems, further research is urgently needed in order to develop preventive interventions.