Drivers of Overweight/Obesity in 4–11 Year Old Children of Australians and Immigrants; Evidence from Growing Up in Australia

  • Tehzeeb ZulfiqarEmail author
  • Lyndall Strazdins
  • Huong Dinh
  • Cathy Banwell
  • Catherine D’Este
Original Paper


Despite high overweight/obesity rates in children of Australian immigrants, the risk factors are unknown. We investigated behavioural risk factors and their association with overweight/obesity in 4–11 year-old children by immigrant status. We conducted cross-sectional and longitudinal analysis of 8 years data from the longitudinal study of Australian children. Immigrant children from low-and-middle-income-countries had higher overweight/obesity rates across all ages. These children had higher vegetables and sugar-sweetened-beverages intake, higher sedentary activities and lower organized-sports participation than immigrant children from high-income-countries or Australian-children. Organized-sports participation and screen-time converged to the Australian norms in 10–11 year-old boys, but not in girls. Preference for sedentary activities and screen-time explained the differences in overweight/obesity by maternal immigrant status in boys but not in girls. The difference in drivers of overweight/obesity amongst immigrant children from low-and-middle-income-countries suggest more nuanced age, sex and culturally sensitive preventive health messages for immigrants.


Immigrants Childhood obesity Diet Sedentary activities 



The Longitudinal Study of Australian Children is conducted in partnership between the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs (FaHCSIA), the Australian Institute of Family Studies (AIFS) and the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS). The findings and views reported in this paper are those of the authors and are not endorsed by FaHCSIA, AIFS or the ABS. We thank all the parents and children for their continuing support and participation in the LSAC.

Author Contributions

TZ developed the original idea and planed the study. TZ led the writing and analysis. LS contributed to the idea and planning. CDE and HD contributed to analysis. CDE, LS contributed to writing and interpretation of results. LS, CDE, HD and CB reviewed and approved the final manuscript.


No funding was received for this research.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

All the authors declare no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

10903_2018_841_MOESM1_ESM.docx (36 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 35 KB)
10903_2018_841_MOESM2_ESM.docx (39 kb)
Supplementary material 2 (DOCX 38 KB)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.National Centre for Epidemiology & Population Health, ANU College of Health and MedicineThe Australian National UniversityCanberraAustralia
  2. 2.Research School of Population Health, National Centre of Epidemiology and Population HealthAustralian National University CanberraCanberraAustralia

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