Dutch versus English advantage in the epidemic of central and generalised obesity is not shared by ethnic minority groups: comparative secondary analysis of cross-sectional data
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Background:Ethnic minority groups in Western European countries tend to have higher levels of overweight than the majority populations for reasons that are poorly understood. Investigating relative differences between countries could enable an investigation of the importance of national context in determining these inequalities. Objective:To explore: (1) whether Indian and African origin populations in England and the Netherlands are similarly disadvantaged compared with the White populations in terms of the prevalence of overweight and central obesity; (2) whether the previously known Dutch advantage of relatively low overweight prevalence is also observed in Dutch ethnic minority groups and (3) the contribution of health behaviour and socio-economic position to the differences observed. Methods:Secondary analyses of population-based studies of 16 406 participants from England and the Netherlands. Prevalence ratios were estimated using regression models. Results:Except for African men, ethnic minority groups in both countries had higher rates of overweight and central obesity than their White counterparts. However, the Dutch minority groups were relatively more disadvantaged than English minority groups as compared with the majority populations. The Dutch advantage of the low prevalence of obesity was only seen in White men and women and African men. In contrast, English-Indian (prevalence ratio=0.87, 95% confidence interval (CI): 0.81-0.93) and English-Caribbean (prevalence ratio=0.82, 95% CI: 0.76-0.89) women were less centrally obese than their Dutch equivalents. The Dutch-Indian men were very similar to the English-Indian men. The contribution of health behaviour and socio-economic position to the observed differences were small. Conclusion:Contrary to the patterns in White groups, the Dutch ethnic minority women were more obese than their English equivalents. More work is needed to identify factors that may contribute to these observed differences.International Journal of Obesity advance online publication, 15 February 2011; doi:10.1038/ijo.2010.281.