Ethnic differences in self-rated overweight and association with reporting weight loss action: the SUNSET study

Mary Nicolaou, Irene G van Valkengoed, Colleen M Doak, Rob M van Dam, Karien Stronks, Jaap C Seidell

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


AIM: To investigate ethnic differences in self-rated overweight and self-reported weight loss action.

METHODS: Cross-sectional study (conducted in 2001-03) of 1441 residents (35-60 years) of Amsterdam, The Netherlands: Surinamese of South Asian (SA-Sur) and African (Afr-Sur) origin and ethnic Dutch. Self-rated overweight and self-reported weight loss action assessed by questionnaire. Height, weight and waist circumference (WC) measured in a clinic setting.

RESULTS: Compared with ethnic Dutch and adjusting for BMI, Afr-Sur men [odds ratio (OR) 0.32; 95% CI 0.19-0.57] and women (OR 0.54; 95% CI 0.34-0.86) were less likely to rate themselves as overweight. However, adjustment for WC reduced differences in self-rated overweight (men: OR 0.79; 95% CI 0.46-1.35; women: OR 0.89; 95% CI 0.59-1.36). SA-Sur participants did not differ significantly from ethnic Dutch when adjusting for either BMI or WC. Surinamese participants were significantly more likely to report weight loss action independent of BMI, WC or self-rated overweight. In Afr-Sur men, elevated WC, not BMI was associated with reported weight loss action (OR 2.31; 95% CI 1.35-3.99 vs. OR 1.52, 95% CI 0.89-2.58, respectively).

CONCLUSION: In this population, differences in self-rated overweight were explained by measured weight variables (BMI or WC). Our results do not support the hypothesis that Surinamese migrants would be less likely to be attempting weight loss than their Dutch peers. Further research into the reasons underlying this finding and associated weight loss behaviour seems indicated.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)859-863
Number of pages5
JournalEuropean Journal of Public Health
Issue number6
Early online date2 Nov 2011
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2012


  • Adult
  • Africa
  • African Continental Ancestry Group
  • Asian Continental Ancestry Group
  • Body Mass Index
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Netherlands
  • Overweight
  • Self Report
  • Suriname
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Waist Circumference
  • Weight Loss
  • Young Adult
  • Journal Article
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't


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