Objective The objective of the study was to analyse prevalence of overweight and obesity among migrant girls in Vienna, Austria, starting at the age of 6 years up to the age of 15 years.
Design In a longitudinal study, the prevalence of overweight and obesity among migrant girls from Turkey and former Yugoslavia was documented and compared with that among Austrian girls in Vienna.
Setting Medical investigation of medical school authority in Viennese schools.
Sample Seven hundred and ninety girls of low socio-economic status were included in the study.
Methods Anthropometric data were collected at the age of 6, 10 and 15 years. Body mass was estimated by means of the body mass index (BMI), and percentile curves were used for determining the weight status.
Main outcome measure Stature, body weight, BMI, weight status.
Results The prevalence of overweight and obesity was significantly higher among migrant girls at all age groups. The highest percentage of overweight was found among 10-year-old girls from Yugoslavia (nearly 35%) and the lowest percentage of overweight was exhibited in 6-year-old Austrian girls (20%). Being overweight or obese at the age of 6 years increased the risk of being overweight at 10 and 15 years significantly (P < 0.001). Among migrants, this risk was significantly higher than among Austrian girls (P < 0.001). Only 64.8% of Austrian girls, who were overweight/obese at the age of 6 years, were still classified as overweight at the age of 15 years. Among migrant girls, who were overweight at the age of 6 years, 72.0% (Turkish girls) and 78.3% (Yugoslavian girls) remained overweight until the age of 15 years.
Conclusions Especially girls from former Yugoslavia but also Turkish girls exhibited high rates of overweight and obesity. Prevention should start as early as possible since overweight tends to persist from childhood into adolescence.