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Overweight and obesity among African immigrants in Oslo

Abdi A Gele12* and Aneth J Mbalilaki3

Author Affiliations

1 Research Group for Inclusive Social Welfare Policies, The Department of Social Science, Oslo University College, Oslo, Norway

2 Section for International Health, Department of General Practice and Community Medicine, University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway

3 Institute of Sport and Biology, The Norwegian School of Sport Sciences, Oslo, Norway

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BMC Research Notes 2013, 6:119  doi:10.1186/1756-0500-6-119

Published: 26 March 2013



Norway is experiencing an increase in overweight/obese adults, with immigrants from developing countries carrying a heavy burden. The aim of this study is to assess the prevalence of overweight and obesity among Somali immigrants in Oslo.


A cross-sectional study involving 208 respondents aged 25 and over was conducted among Somali immigrants in Oslo, using a structured questionnaire. Prevalence of overweight/obesity varied by gender, with women having a significantly higher prevalence (66%) than men (28%). The mean BMI for females and males were 27.4 and 23.6, respectively. Similarly, 53% of women and 28% of men were abdominally obese. In a logistic regression analysis, both generalized and abdominal obesity were significantly associated with increasing duration of residence in Norway, and with being less physically active.


Public health policymakers should facilitate an environment that enables Somali immigrants, particularly women, to lead healthy lifestyles. In this time of epidemiological transition, health education in the areas of physical exercise and healthy eating should be a major focus for working with new immigrants.

Overweight; Obesity; Immigrants’ health; Physical activity