Overweight and obesity in children of immigrant versus native parents: exploring a local setting in Portugal

Susana Moreira, Luzia Gonçalves

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


In Portugal, the majority of immigrants come from Portuguese-speaking countries. Among children, overweight and obesity are serious public health concerns, but a few studies include children with immigrant background. This study aimed to estimate the prevalence of overweight and obesity and risk of abdominal obesity in school-age children and to explore potential determinants, considering the origin of the children’s parents (both mother and father are non-Portuguese, only one Portuguese, and both are Portuguese). A cross-sectional study included a random sample of 789 children (5–11 years old, 49.2% of males and 50.8% female) attending public primary schools in Barreiro, district of Setubal, Portugal. Fieldwork occurred from 20th April to 3rd July 2009. Data concerning socioeconomic, eating habits, and sports outside school were obtained through a questionnaire applied to the children’s person in charge. Anthropometric measures were collected by certified technicians. One-third of the children presented overweight and obesity (33.7%, 95% CI [30.0; 37.7]) and risk of abdominal obesity (16.4%, 95% CI [13.6; 19.7]) without differences according to parents’ origin. Children with immigrant background presented higher consumption of low-priced, high-sugar, and high-fat foods, with a worse situation for girls. Females from both non-Portuguese parents also practiced less sports outside school than those where one or two parents are Portuguese. Thus, promoting and monitoring a healthy diet and physical activity in this group should be prioritized in this local setting.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7897-7912
Number of pages15
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number21
Publication statusPublished - 28 Oct 2020


  • Children of immigrants
  • Overweight and obesity
  • Parents’ origin
  • Risk of abdominal obesity


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