Population groups in dietary transition

  • Per E. Wändell
Keywords: Ethnic groups, obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, vitamin D deficiency, dental caries


Background: Little is known about the effects of dietary acculturation in minority groups in the Nordic countries, including immigrants from non-Western societies.

Methods: A search was performed in Medlin33e/PubMed and SweMedfor articles published in 19902011.

Results: A total of 840 articles were identified, with a final 32 articles used to tabulate results which were included in the primary analysis. High rates of vitamin D deficiency (23 articles) were found in immigrants of non-Western origin; deficiency rates were very high among both pregnant and non-pregnant women, and also among children, with young children of immigrant parents showing 50 times higher risk for rickets when compared to children of indigenous parents. The risk of iron deficiency (two articles) was high among immigrant women, while the results were inconclusive regarding children. High rates of dental caries (seven articles) were found among pre-school and younger school children of immigrant origin, while the risk of caries was not as evident among older children. In a secondary analysis, including 48 articles (results not tabulated), overweight and obesity (14 articles) were seen in many immigrant groups, resulting in a high prevalence of diabetes (2 review articles from a total of 14 original articles) and incidence of coronary heart disease (CHD; seven articles). For hypertension (three articles), dyslipidemia (four articles), and dietary patterns among immigrants (10 articles), the results were contradictory.

Conclusions: Risk of vitamin D deficiency is alarmingly high in the Nordic countries among immigrants of non-Western origin, especially among women. Dental caries is high among immigrant children aged 07 years due to a higher intake of sugary products. Overweight and obesity, associated with a higher risk of diabetes and CHD, are prevalent in many immigrant groups and need further attention.

Keywords: Ethnic groups; obesity; diabetes; cardiovascular diseases; vitamin D deficiency; dental caries

(Published: 3 October 2013)

Citation: Food & Nutrition Research 2013. 57: 21668 - http://dx.doi.org/10.3402/fnr.v57i0.21668

Special Issue: This paper is part of the Nordic Nutrition Recommendations - The NNR5 project. More papers from this issue can be found at http://www.foodandnutritionresearch.net


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How to Cite
Wändell P. E. (2013). Population groups in dietary transition. Food & Nutrition Research. https://doi.org/10.3402/fnr.v57i0.21668
Nordic Nutrition Recommendations - The NNR5 project