Differences in Overweight and Obesity among Children from Migrant and Native Origin: The Role of Physical Activity, Dietary Intake, and Sleep Duration

Wim Labree*, Dike van de Mheen, Frans Rutten, Gerda Rodenburg, Gerrit Koopmans, Marleen Foets

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


A cross-sectional survey was performed to examine to what degree differences in overweight and obesity between native Dutch and migrant primary school children could be explained by differences in physical activity, dietary intake, and sleep duration among these children. Subjects (n= 1943) were primary school children around the age of 8-9 years old and their primary caregivers: native Dutch children (n = 1546), Turkish children (n = 93), Moroccan children (n = 66), other non-western children (n = 105), and other western children (n = 133). Multivariate regressions and logistic regressions were used to examine the relationship between migrant status, child's behavior, and BMI or prevalence of overweight, including obesity (logistic). Main explanatory variables were physical activity, dietary intake, and sleep duration. We controlled for age, sex, parental educational level, and parental BMI. Although sleep duration, dietary intake of fruit, and dietary intake of energy-dense snacks were associated with BMI, ethnic differences in sleep duration and dietary intake did not have a large impact on ethnic differences in overweight and obesity among children from migrant and native origin. It is suggested that future preventive strategies to reduce overweight and obesity, in general, consider the role of sleep duration. Also, cross-cultural variation in preparation of food among specific migrant groups, focusing on fat, sugar, and salt, deserves more attention. In order to examine which other variables may clarify ethnic differences in overweight and obesity, future research is needed.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0123672
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2015

Cite this