, Volume 9, Issue 3, pp 191-196
Date: 25 Jan 2007

Body Composition and Cardiorespiratory Fitness among Refugee Somali Women Living in New Zealand

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The purpose of this study was to compare the body composition and cardiorespiratory fitness levels of a sample of refugee Somali women living in New Zealand with normative data. Refugee Somali women were invited to participate in sessions to assess physical fitness and body measurements. Height, bodyweight and waist and hip circumference were measured. The Rockport Fitness Walk Test was used to estimate the women’s cardiorespiratory fitness levels. Thirty-one women between 12 and 66 years old participated in this study. There was a significantly greater proportion (71.4%) of participants with a BMI in the overweight or obese range (≥25 kg/m2) compared to normative New Zealand women’s data (49.3%; p = 0.015). The proportion of Somali women (42%) with a waist-to-hip ratio in excess of 0.8 was higher than that of New Zealand women (35.6%), but not statistically so. All women over 30 years of age (n = 12) had an estimated VO2max below the 50th percentile with eight participants below the 10th percentile. The extent of overweight and obesity and low fitness levels, particularly among the older Somali women in this study, suggests that Somali women are at increased risk of developing lifestyle related diseases.