“What's a normal weight?” – Origin and receiving country influences on weight-status assessment among 1.5 and 2nd generation immigrant adolescents in Europe

Matthias Robert Kern, Andreas Heinz, Gonneke W.J.M. Stevens, Sophie D. Walsh, Helmut Willems

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations

Abstract

Many adolescents struggle with adequately assessing their weight-status, often leading to unnecessary weight-related interventions or preventing necessary ones. The prevalence of weight-status over- and underestimation differs considerably cross-nationally, suggesting that individual weight-status assessment is informed by cross-nationally differing standards of evaluation. For adolescents with a migration background, this brings up the possibility of a simultaneous influence of origin- and receiving country standards. The current study examines the magnitude of both influences using data from the 2014 Health Behaviour in School-Aged Children study. The cross-national design of the study enabled us to aggregate weight-evaluation standards for 41, primarily European, countries. Subsequently, we identified a sample of 8 124 adolescents with a migration background whose origin as well as receiving country participated in the study. Among those adolescents, we assessed the effects of origin and receiving country weight-evaluation standards using cross-classified multilevel regression analyses. Descriptive analyses revealed considerable differences in weight-evaluation standards between the countries. Regression analyses showed that both origin- and receiving country weight-evaluation standards were significantly associated cross-sectionally with weight-status assessment among the immigrant adolescents, with a stronger impact of receiving country standards. Results illustrate the context-sensitivity of adolescent weight-status assessment and reinforce the theoretical notion that immigrant adolescent development is not only informed by factors pertaining to their receiving country but also, albeit to a lesser extent, by those pertaining to their origin country.

Original languageEnglish
Article number113306
JournalSocial Science and Medicine
Volume264
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 The Author(s)

Keywords

  • Adolescence
  • Cross-national
  • Migration
  • Origin country
  • Receiving country
  • Weight-status assessment
  • Weight-status perception

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