Is acculturation associated with physical activity among female immigrants in Sweden?

Lena S. Jönsson, Karolina Palmér, Henrik Ohlsson, Jan Sundquist, Kristina Sundquist

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


BackgroundImmigrant women in Sweden have lower levels of leisure time physical activity (LTPA) than Swedish-born women. The reasons are unclear, although acculturation has been suggested to play a role.MethodsWe used a cross-sectional study design to investigate the association between LTPA and two indicators of acculturation: (i) language proficiency (ability to understand news reports on the radio and television) and (ii) age at the time of migration, and if there existed a modifying effect on these hypothesized associations. The study sample consisted of 1651 women, aged 18-65, living in Sweden and born in Finland, Chile or Iraq. A postal questionnaire (translated into the women's native language) was used to collect the variables. The International Physical Activity Questionnaire was used to assess LTPA. Data were collected in 2002-05 and analyzed in 2009-10. A partial-proportional odds model was used for the analysis.ResultsIncreased language proficiency was associated with increased LTPA [odds ratio (OR) =2.31, 95% confidence interval (CI) =1.57-3.41]. Country of birth modified the association. Furthermore, younger age at migration was associated with increased LTPA (OR =1.44, 95% CI =1.01-2.03). ConclusionsIncreased language proficiency has the potential to be an important health-promoting factor among immigrant women.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)270-277
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Public Health
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • physical activity
  • public health


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