Thesis-2017-Andre.pdf (7.37 MB)
Download file

Socioeconomic status and biological factors on the nutritional health of an urban community of Cape Verdean children residing in Portugal

Download (7.37 MB)
posted on 09.08.2017, 13:54 authored by Ana Lucia Vieira Peixoto Andre
Background and aims: Southern European countries have been showing high overweight and obesity (OW/OB) rates especially among the younger generations (Cattaneo et al. 2010). Portugal is one of those countries with 37.9% overweight and 15.3% obesity in 6 to 8 year olds (Rito et al. 2012). However little is known about the health of ethnic minorities living in its capital city, Lisbon. The Cape Verdean community in Lisbon, the second largest group in Portugal, would be expected to be more affected by this epidemic due to social inequalities. This community also tend to have low educational levels, material deprivation and struggle with discrimination and racism, factors that would likely be associated with a higher prevalence of OW/OB. The aim of this study was to assess the nutritional status of Cape Verdean ancestry children aged 6 to 12 years old living in Lisbon according to their socioeconomic status, general living conditions, family composition, diet and physical activity levels. To compare the findings with previous projects conducted in 1993 and 2009 in the same location with Cape Verdean ancestry children and with Portuguese ancestry children (national study conducted in 2009). To determine what early life factors have significant effect on these children's nutritional health. Methods : Physical measures and household information were collected from November 2013 to February 2014 in Cova da Moura Neighbourhood in Lisbon. Physical measures included height, weight, skinfolds, arm and waist circumferences. From these survey data body mass index (BMI) and the prevalence of stunting (chronic malnutrition - low height-for- age) and underweight (low-weight-for-age) were calculated according to reference values proposed by Frisancho (2008). Overweight and obesity values were defined based on the references established by the International Obesity Task Force (IOTF), CDC, and WHO depending on the specific aim or research question. Results: Results show this is a very deprived community with low educational levels and mostly employed in the service sector. Maternal height and child birth order showed a significant association with child's height. Moreover maternal height and age are associated with child leg length. Living in a single parent family is associated with an increase in child BMI of 1.412 units when accounting for maternal waist circumference. Also significant differences in height for boys and girls were observed between Cape Verdean and Portuguese children. Generally, Cape Verdeans growth falls within the healthy range of International growth references across all of the survey data collected. Cape Verdean rates for combined over nutrition (overweight and obesity) in 2013 (9.8% for boys and 16.7% for girls) are lower than the Portuguese (33% for boys and 31.7% for girls). Logistic regression models showed that Cape Verdean children have a lower risk of being OW/OB compared to Portuguese children when accounting for breastfeeding,birth weight,maternal education and occupation. Conclusions : Despite living in a deprived neighbourhood these Cape Verdean children seem to have grown healthier than Portuguese ancestry children. The challenge for policy makers will be to support improvement of the poverty related living conditions of this community without creating a risky environment for increasing prevalence of overweight and obesity.


Loughborough University



  • Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences


© Ana Lúcia Vieira Peixoto André

Publisher statement

This work is made available according to the conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) licence. Full details of this licence are available at:

Publication date



A Doctoral Thesis. Submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the award of Doctor of Philosophy of Loughborough University.