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Childhood obesity linked to cultural background

Childhood obesity linked to cultural background

Primary school children from Middle-Eastern and Asian backgrounds are more overweight than kids from English-speaking backgrounds.

Childhood obesity linked to cultural background

The University of Sydney study, published in the Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health found that children from the Middle East and Asia had significantly lower levels of cardiovascular fitness.

Paper co-author, Dr Debra Hector from the University’s School of Public Health said that this was the first study of its kind to look at both children’s ethnic background and their socioeconomic status in relation to their weight.

“Our results indicate the need for obesity prevention initiatives to target children and their families from Middle-Eastern and Asian backgrounds who live in low socioeconomic areas,” she said.

“They need to reach, and be culturally appropriate for, children who are most at risk.”

Examining 4,898 primary school children from these large ethnic groups and their socioeconomic status (SES) differences, the results showed that low socioeconomic areas accounted for the majority of overweight children from these cultural backgrounds.

“Our results indicate the need for obesity prevention initiatives to target children and their families from Middle-Eastern and Asian backgrounds who live in low socioeconomic areas,” she said.

“They need to reach, and be culturally appropriate for, children who are most at risk.”

Skipping breakfast, being rewarded with sugary sweets for good behavior, and drinking one or more glasses of fruit juice a day were noted as contributing factors towards the high obesity rate.

Other studies suggest that the acculturation of immigrant populations in Australia affects their obesity levels, with subsequent generations being at greater risk than the first generation,” Dr Hector said.

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