The influence of ethnicity and length of time since immigration on physical activity

  • Dawson A
  • Sundquist J
  • Johansson S
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Abstract

OBJECTIVE: This study investigates whether ethnicity and length of time since immigration influence levels of leisure-time physical activity in Sweden.

DESIGN/SETTING/PARTICIPANTS: This cross-sectional study analyses data from the Swedish Survey of Living Conditions from the years 1996, 1997 and 1999, which is conducted annually and is a simple, random sample drawn from the register of the total population in Sweden. The total sample was 14,485 men and women aged 20-74 years, who were categorised according to country of origin: born in Sweden, Western Europe, Finland, Southern Europe, Eastern Europe or all other countries. The multivariate analysis was performed using a logistic regression model in order to investigate the effects of possible confounding factors on physical activity.

MAIN RESULTS: The risk of reporting low levels of physical activity was significantly higher for men born in Finland, Southern Europe and in the category 'all other countries', and also for women born in Southern Europe, Eastern Europe and 'all other countries', compared with men and women born in Sweden. After the inclusion of the variables education, smoking, body mass index and longstanding illness or disability into the model, the relationship between ethnicity and low levels of physical activity decreased to non-significance for men born in Finland and Southern Europe, but remained significant for men born in the category 'all other countries'. The differences in risk for women observed in the crude model remained significant even after inclusion of all other variables in the multivariate model. A positive gradient was observed between the length of time since immigration to Sweden and low levels of physical activity in women but no relationship was observed in men.

CONCLUSIONS: There are significant differences in levels of leisure-time physical activity between different ethnic groups living in Sweden, which could not all be explained by the confounding factors age, education, smoking, body mass index or long-term illness or disability. In women, but not in men, levels of leisure-time physical activity increased with increasing time since immigration to Sweden.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Cross-sectional Study
  • Ethnicity
  • Physical Activity

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Authors

  • Amanda J. Dawson

  • Jan Sundquist

  • Sven Erik Johansson

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