Cross national study of leisure-time physical activity in Dutch and English populations with ethnic group comparisons

1 Department of Public Health, Academic Medical Center, University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
The European Journal of Public Health (Impact Factor: 2.59). 07/2012; 23(3). DOI: 10.1093/eurpub/cks088
Source: PubMed


Variations between countries in leisure-time physical activity (LTPA) can be used to test the convergence thesis, which expects that ethnic minority groups change towards the LTPA levels of the native population of host countries. The aim of this study was to test whether similar differences in LTPA between the native populations of England and the Netherlands are also observed among the Indian and African descent groups living in these countries.

We used English and Dutch population-based health surveys that included participants aged 35-60 years of European (n(english) = 14,723, n(dutch) = 567), Indian (n(english) = 1264, n(dutch) = 370) and African-Caribbean (n(english) = 1112, n(dutch) = 689) descent. Levels of LTPA (30-minute walking, any reported cycling, gardening, dancing and playing sports) were estimated with age-sex-standardized prevalence rates. Comparisons among groups were made using adjusted Prevalence Ratios (PRs).

Within both countries and compared with the European group, Indian and African groups had lower levels of gardening and cycling, whereas the African groups had higher levels of dancing. Between countries, among the European groups, the Netherlands showed higher prevalence of cycling than England, PR = 2.26 (95% CI: 2.06-2.48), and this was 2.85 (1.94-4.19) among Indian descent, and 2.77 (2.05-3.73) among African descent. For playing sports, this was PR = 1.30 (1.23-1.38), 1.43 (1.24-1.66) and 1.22 (1.10-1.34), whereas for gardening this was PR = 0.71 (0.65-0.78), 0.65 (0.52-0.81) and 0.75 (0.62-0.90), respectively. Walking and dancing showed inconsistent differences between the countries and ethnic groups.

This cross-national comparison supports the expectation that LTPA of Indian and African descent groups converge towards the national levels of England and the Netherlands respectively.

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Available from: Agyemang Charles, Jan 01, 2016
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    ABSTRACT: Background: South Asians are some of the least active people in the UK, but we know very little about how physical activity varies within and between different UK South Asian groups. There is much socio-economic and cultural heterogeneity among UK Indians, Pakistanis and Bangladeshis, and the same approaches to increasing physical activity may not be appropriate for all people of these ethnic groups. We report on the variation in physical activity behaviour prevalence in quantitative studies and the variations in attitudes, motivations and barriers to physical activity among South Asians in qualitative papers. Methods: We performed systematic searches in MEDLINE, Embase and Psychinfo for papers written in English and published between 1990 and 2014. We also attempted to search literature not published in peer-review journals (the 'grey' literature). We reported data for the quantitative observational studies and synthesised themes from the qualitative literature according to age-group. We assessed the quality of studies using a National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence tool. Results: We included 29 quantitative papers and 17 qualitative papers. Thirteen papers reported on physical activity prevalence in South Asian children, with the majority comparing them to White British children. Four papers reported on adult second-generation South Asians and the rest reported on South Asian adults in general. Second-generation South Asians were more active than the first-generation but were still less active than the White British. There were no high quality qualitative studies on second-generation South Asian adults, but there were some studies on South Asian children. The adult studies indicated that the second-generation might have a more favourable attitude towards physical activity than the first-generation. Conclusions: There is clear variation in physical activity levels among UK South Asians. Second-generation South Asians appear to be more physically active than the first-generation, but still less active than the White British. More qualitative research is needed to understand why, but there are indications that second-generation South Asians have a more positive attitude towards physical activity than the first-generation. Different strategies to increase physical activity may be needed for different generations of UK South Asians.
    Full-text · Article · Jul 2015 · International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity