Many adolescents struggle with adequately assessing their weight-status, often leading to unnecessary weight-related interventions or preventing necessary ones. The prevalence of weight-status over- and underestimation differs considerably cross-nationally, suggesting that individual weight-status assessment is informed by cross-nationally differing standards of evaluation. For adolescents with a migration background, this brings up the possibility of a simultaneous influence of origin- and receiving country standards. The current study examines the magnitude of both influences using data from the 2014 Health Behaviour in School-Aged Children study. The cross-national design of the study enabled us to aggregate weight-evaluation standards for 41, primarily European, countries. Subsequently, we identified a sample of 8 124 adolescents with a migration background whose origin as well as receiving country participated in the study. Among those adolescents, we assessed the effects of origin and receiving country weight-evaluation standards using cross-classified multilevel regression analyses. Descriptive analyses revealed considerable differences in weight-evaluation standards between the countries. Regression analyses showed that both origin- and receiving country weight-evaluation standards were significantly associated cross-sectionally with weight-status assessment among the immigrant adolescents, with a stronger impact of receiving country standards. Results illustrate the context-sensitivity of adolescent weight-status assessment and reinforce the theoretical notion that immigrant adolescent development is not only informed by factors pertaining to their receiving country but also, albeit to a lesser extent, by those pertaining to their origin country.
Kern, M. R., Heinz, A., Stevens, G. W. J. M., Walsh, S. D. & Willems, H. (2020). “What’s a normal weight?” – Origin and receiving country influences on weight-status assessment among 1.5 and 2nd generation immigrant adolescents in Europe. Social Science & Medicine, 264, 113306.