Obesity, overweight and ethnicity

Health Rep. 2005 Jun;16(4):23-34.


Objectives: This article describes the prevalence of self-reported overweight and obesity, based on body mass index (BMI), by ethnicity and examines the influence of time since immigration within and between ethnic groups.

Data sources: Results are based on data from two cycles of Statistics Canada's Canadian Community Health Survey, conducted in 2000/01 and 2003.

Analytical techniques: Weighted prevalences of overweight (BMI > or =25) and obesity (BMI > or =30) were calculated by sex and ethnicity for the population aged 20 to 64. Multiple logistic regression models were used to examine associations between overweight/obesity and ethnicity, and within and between ethnic groups based on time since immigration, controlling for age, household income, education and physical activity.

Main results: Aboriginal men and women had the highest prevalences of overweight and obesity; East/Southeast Asians, the lowest. Independent of age, household income, education and physical activity, Aboriginal people had elevated odds of overweight and obesity, compared with Whites; South Asians and East/Southeast Asians had significantly lower odds. Recent immigrants (10 years or less) had significantly lower prevalences of overweight, compared with non-immigrants, but this difference tended to disappear over time.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Body Mass Index
  • Canada / epidemiology
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Emigration and Immigration*
  • Female
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Obesity / epidemiology
  • Obesity / ethnology*
  • Overweight / ethnology*
  • Prevalence