Differing lifestyles: A study of ethnicity and health

July 8, 2011, Economic & Social Research Council

In recent years, the UK government has made bold statements regarding the recommendations for living a healthy life; including guidelines for how much fruit and how many vegetables we should eat daily, along with the ideal amount of physical activity we should do in order to avoid the risks of obesity. Funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), the research found that men from most of the minority ethnic groups studied, and women from Pakistani and Bangladeshi groups, are more likely than their white counterparts to eat the recommended five portions of fruit or vegetables a day. Pakistani and Bangladeshi men and women and Indian and Chinese women are less likely to be as physically active.

The research, conducted by Vanessa Higgins and Professor Angela Dale of the Centre for Census and Survey Research at the University of Manchester, examined differences in , physical activity and obesity among ethnic groups in England. The study found that females who have migrated to England as an adult are more likely than those born in England to eat their five-a-day.

However, the study found that Pakistani and Bangladeshi men and women, and also Indian and , are less likely to be as physically active as the Department of Health recommends. This result was consistent after accounting for respondents' age, level of education, , whether they were born in England or overseas, their and the level of deprivation in the area they live.

It is shown that education is an important predictor of physical activity, diet and obesity, and in particular, a mother's level of education, influences the physical activity, diet and obesity of their daughters. In addition, the level of maternal physical activity is strongly associated with child physical activity and mothers who eat their five-a-day are more likely to pass on these good habits to their children; where parents are obese, there is a greater risk that the children will also become obese.

Miss Higgins stated: "The low levels of physical activity among Pakistani and Bangladeshi men and women suggest that policies aimed at increasing physical activity should target these ethnic groups. Other studies have suggested that cultural barriers may prevent Pakistani and Bangladeshi women from participating in some forms of physical activity, however as levels were low among women and men, they cannot be simply explained by cultural barriers that are specific to women".

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Women run faster after taking newly developed supplement, study finds

January 19, 2018
A new study found that women who took a specially prepared blend of minerals and nutrients for a month saw their 3-mile run times drop by almost a minute.

Americans are getting more sleep

January 19, 2018
Although more than one in three Americans still don't get enough sleep, a new analysis shows first signs of success in the fight for more shut eye. According to data from 181,335 respondents aged 15 and older who participated ...

Wine is good for you—to a point

January 18, 2018
The Mediterranean diet has become synonymous with healthy eating, but there's one thing in it that stands out: It's cool to drink wine.

Sleep better, lose weight?

January 17, 2018
(HealthDay)—Sleeplessness could cost you when it's time to stand on your bathroom scale, a new British study suggests.

Who uses phone apps to track sleep habits? Mostly the healthy and wealthy in US

January 16, 2018
The profile of most Americans who use popular mobile phone apps that track sleep habits is that they are relatively affluent, claim to eat well, and say they are in good health, even if some of them tend to smoke.

Improvements in mortality rates are slowed by rise in obesity in the United States

January 15, 2018
With countless medical advances and efforts to curb smoking, one might expect that life expectancy in the United States would improve. Yet according to recent studies, there's been a reduction in the rate of improvement in ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.