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Greek and Immigrant Kindergarteners' Dietary Habits and BMI: Attica, Greece in Austere Times

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Objective: In this study, we assessed Greek and immigrant kindergarteners' and their families' body mass index (BMI), nutritional habits, and level of adherence to the Mediterranean diet during the Greek austerity period beginning in 2009. Methods: A cross-sectional study in Attica, Greece, during the school year 2016-17, enrolling 578 guardian parents and 578 kindergarteners aged ≥ 5-6 years, from 63 public kindergartens in 36 municipalities in Attica's prefecture. Results: Immigrant mothers experienced twice as high the unemployment rate (21.3%) than Greek mothers (10.5%), with consequent degradation in food products purchasing (p = .03) (non-Greeks 54.3%, Greeks: 49.1%). BMI rates between Greeks and immigrant participants were similar, with significant variations in several lifestyle habits, including Greek parents' heavier smoking and higher physical activity in parents of different ethnic origin. KIDMED score was "poor" in both Greek and other identity kindergarteners, with slight differences in some of the Mediterranean dietary habits and patterns; strong correlation was expressed between the child's BMI and KIDMED score, guardian parent's age, BMI, and overall lifestyle. Conclusions: This study could be a springboard for further research in the understudied population of native and immigrant kindergarteners, reflecting on national and international initiatives and action plans to ensure that their similarities and differences are noted.
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Keywords: AUSTERITY; BMI; CHILD NUTRITION; ETHNICITY; GREECE; KINDERGARTENERS

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: December 1, 2020

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  • Health Behavior and Policy Review is a rigorously peer-reviewed scholarly bi-monthly publication that seeks manuscripts on health behavior or policy topics that represent original research, including papers that examine the development, advocacy, implementation, or evaluation of policies around specific health issues. The Review especially welcomes papers that tie together health behavior and policy recommendations. Articles are available through subscription or can be ordered individually from the Health Behavior and Policy Review site.
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