Augsburg: Weight issues in children starting school

December 22, 2008

Immigrant children have a greater risk of suffering from overweight and obesity. This is the result of a study from Augsburg with 2306 children examined on starting school. Elisabeth Weber and her coauthors present the results in the current issue of Deutsches Ärzteblatt International (Dtsch Arztbl Int 2008; 105 [51-52]: 883-9). The doctors recorded not only the age, sex, weight, and height of the children, but also their mother tongue. Their parents had to answer a questionnaire covering sporting activity, amount of television watched, and eating behavior.

German was the mother tongue of 1398 of the children examined. Turkish was the most frequent foreign language (395 children), followed by Russian (183 children). Other languages were subsumed under "other" (419 children). In all, 302 children (13.1%) suffered from overweight and 133 children (4.9%) were obese. The results showed that half of all the children engaged in no sporting activity. In particular, 65% of Turkish speaking children and 59% of Russian speaking children were not in any sporting group. There were also ethnic differences in the amount of television watched. Almost two thirds of Turkish and Russian speaking children watched one to three hours of television per day--about twice as many as Germans. The eating habits of the Turkish children were particularly striking. Only 12.4% had five meals a day--the lowest of any group.

According to the authors, the study found a marked increase in the prevalence of overweight in children starting school in Augsburg--in contrast to the general trend towards stagnation in this respect. Similar differences between the different language groups have been found in other studies (for example, KiGGS).
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http://www.aerzteblatt.de/v4/archiv/pdf.asp?id=62861

Deutsches Aerzteblatt International

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