Obesity and undernutrition in sub-Saharan African immigrant and refugee children in Victoria, Australia

Asia Pac J Clin Nutr. 2006;15(4):482-90.


The study assessed the anthropometric status of 337 sub-Saharan African children aged between 3-12 years who migrated to Australia. These children were selected using a snowball sampling method stratified by age, gender and region of origin. The prevalence rates for overweight and obesity were 18.4% (95%CI: 14 - 23%) and 8.6% (95%CI: 6% -12%) respectively. The prevalence rates for the indicators of undernutrition were: wasting 4.3% (95%CI: 1.6%-9.1%), underweight 1.2% (95%CI: 0.3%-3.0%), and stunting 0.3 (95%CI: 0.0%-1.6%). Higher prevalence of overweight/obesity was associated with lower household income level, fewer siblings, lower birth weight, western African background, and single parent households (after controlling for demographic and socio-economic factors). Higher prevalence rates for underweight and wasting were associated with lower household income and shorter lengths of stay in Australia respectively. No effect was found for child's age, gender, parental education and occupation for both obesity and undernutrition indices. In conclusion, obesity and overweight are very prevalent in SSA migrant children and undernutrition, especially wasting, was also not uncommon in this target group.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Africa South of the Sahara / ethnology
  • Age Factors
  • Anthropometry
  • Body Height / physiology
  • Body Weight / physiology
  • Child
  • Child Nutrition Disorders / epidemiology
  • Child, Preschool
  • Emigration and Immigration
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Malnutrition / epidemiology*
  • Obesity / epidemiology*
  • Odds Ratio
  • Prevalence
  • Refugees*
  • Sex Factors
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Victoria / epidemiology