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Open Access Open Badges Research article

Acculturation does not necessarily lead to increased physical activity during leisure time: a cross-sectional study among Turkish young people in the Netherlands

Karen Hosper*, Niek S Klazinga and Karien Stronks

Author Affiliations

Department of Social Medicine, Academic Medical Centre – University of Amsterdam, P.O. Box 22700, 1100 DD Amsterdam, the Netherlands

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BMC Public Health 2007, 7:230  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-7-230

Published: 3 September 2007



Non-Western migrant populations living in Western countries are more likely to be physically inactive during leisure time than host populations. It is argued that this difference will disappear as they acculturate to the culture of the host country. We explored whether this is also true for migrants who experience contextual barriers such as having children, living in a less attractive neighbourhood, or having occupational physical activity.


Cross-sectional data were obtained from the LASER-study (2003–2004) on health related behaviours in first and second generation Turkish young people living in the Netherlands. For this study we included 485 Turkish participants aged 15–30 years, who participated in a structured interview during a home visit. Acculturation was indicated by level of 'cultural orientation towards the Dutch culture' and 'social contacts with ethnic Dutch' with persons being low oriented towards the Dutch culture and having few social contacts with ethnic Dutch as reference group. The measured barriers were 'having children', 'occupational physical activity' and 'living in a less attractive neighbourhood'. Logistic regression analyses were used to assess the associations between acculturation and physical activity during leisure time, stratified by these contextual barriers.


Greater cultural and social integration was associated with increased physical activity during leisure time. Odds ratio's were 1.85 (CI: 1.19–2.85) for 'cultural orientation' and 1.77 (CI: 1.15–2.71) for 'social contacts with ethnic Dutch'. However, these associations were not present or less strong among people who had children, or who were living in a less attractive neighbourhood or who engaged in occupational physical activity.


Physical activity during leisure time increased with greater acculturation, however, this relationship was found only among participants without children, living in a attractive neighbourhood and having no occupational activity. Interventions aimed at migrant populations should not only focus on the least integrated. Instead, effectiveness might be enhanced when interventions are sensitive to the contextual barriers that might inhibit physical activity behaviours during leisure time.