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Differences in weight status and energy-balance related behaviours according to ethnic background among adolescents in seven countries in Europe: the ENERGY-project

Authors


Address for correspondence: Professor J Brug, Department of Epidemiology & Biostatistics and the EMGO Institute for Health and Care Research, VU University Medical Center, P.O. Van der Boechorststraat 7, 1081 BT Amsterdam, the Netherlands. E-mail: j.brug@vumc.nl

Summary

Objective

The aim of this study was to explore differences in weight status and energy balance behaviours according to ethnic background among adolescents across Europe.

Methods

A school-based survey among 10–12-year-old adolescents was conducted in seven European countries. Weight, height and waist circumference were measured; engagement in physical activity, sedentary and dietary behaviour, and sleep duration was assessed by child and parent-report. A distinction between native and non-native ethnic background was based on language spoken at home, and the parents' country of birth. Analyses were conducted with and without adjustment for parental education.

Results

With valid data on both indicators of ethnic background for 5149 adolescents, 7307 adolescents (52% girls; 11.6 ± 0.7 years) participated. Significantly higher prevalence of overweight, obesity, body mass index and waist circumference were observed among non-native compared with native adolescents. Non-native adolescents had less favourable behavioural patterns (sugary drinks, breakfast skipping, sport, TV and computer time, hours of sleep) with the exception of active transport to school. Similar patterns were observed for both indicators of ethnicity, and in most of the separate countries; however, in Greece, weight status indicators were better among non-native adolescents. After adjustment for parental education, most differences remained significant according to country of origin of the parents, but not according to language spoken at home.

Conclusion

Adolescents of native ethnicity of the country of residence have, in general, more favourable weight status indicators and energy balance-related behaviours than adolescents of non-native ethnicity across Europe.

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