“Our findings are alarming. From a young age, South Asian boys appear to be on a path towards developing serious health conditions,” said lead researcher Ananya Banerjee from Women’s College Hospital in Toronto, Canada.
Previous work has established that in Canada, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular diseases are more prevalent among South Asian adults, compared to non-South Asian populations.
Being overweight or obese increases an individual’s risk of developing these conditions.
In this study, researchers measured the heights and weights of 734 students between the ages of 10 and 12 years.
Researchers tracked each participant’s physical activity during selected times over seven days and considered socio-demographic factors.
Overall, the likelihood of being overweight was higher in populations of South Asian children (36.9 percent) compared to non-South Asian populations (23 percent).
The median number of minutes per day spent engaged in moderate to vigorous physical activity was lower in South Asian children (24.1 minutes) compared to non-South Asian children (28.9 minutes).
“It is likely that cultural perceptions around being overweight – in addition to exercise and diet – are contributing to the trends we are seeing,” Banerjee said.
The findings were published in the Journal of Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities.