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J Hum Nutr Diet. 2005 Jun;18(3):187-94.

Obesity, dietary pattern and physical activity among children in a suburb with a high proportion of immigrants.

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  • 1Department of Clinical Nutrition, Institute of Internal Medicine, The Sahlgrenska Academy at Göteborg University, Gothenburg, Sweden.



Obesity among children is a growing problem. Interventions should be planned to meet needs in different cultural settings. The objective of this study was to explore dietary patterns, physical activity and perceptions of relationships between life-style and health among children in a suburb with low socio-economic status and a high proportion of immigrants and refugees.


All children (n = 114) in Grades 5 and 6, aged 11 to 12 years, at a local Swedish school were invited, 112 participated. Food and exercise habits and perceptions on health and body image were assessed by a validated questionnaire and an interview. Height and weight were measured and risk for passing BMI 25 and 30 kg/m(2), respectively at the age of 18 was calculated.


Thirty-one percent of the children were obese or overweight. Thirty-four percent spent more than 3 h daily watching TV or using computer, a behaviour, which clustered with excess intake of sweet drinks and habitually skipping breakfast. Only about half of the children believed that their life-style could affect their health. The results show that low socio-economic status and migration are proxies for overweight and obesity.


Obesity, unhealthy living and a low awareness of relations between life-style and health call for action, for culturally sensitive prevention and treatment approaches.

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