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Immigrants ‘healthier’ than Belgians

Published on 01/02/2005

1 February 2005

BRUSSELS – Adult immigrants seem to lead healthier lifestyles than Belgians, it was reported on Tuesday.

The daily newspaper La Libre Belgique said that non-Belgians living here had lower mortality rates than the native population.

According to a study by the Observatory of Brussels’ Health and Society, fewer immigrants die of lung cancer than native Belgians.

Lung cancer is the number one cause of premature deaths here.

La Libre suggested the difference had a lot to do with the high numbers of Belgians who smoke.

The study also found more native Belgian men died of heart problems and fewer immigrant women over 55 died from breast cancer – the number one cause of premature female deaths in Belgium.

La Libre argued that earlier and more numerous pregnancies and longer periods of breastfeeding by immigrant women were likely to explain the difference, as these have been highlighted as factors which reduce the risk of breast cancer.

However, there is evidence that this better health may not be maintained among immigrant communities as the young are progressively changing their lifestyles.

A total of 14.5 percent of immigrant adolescents, for instance, were found to eat chips on a daily basis, compared to just 7 percent of Belgians.

Mortality rates among immigrant babies and children are also a worry.

In 2002, 12 percent of the under 18s who died were Moroccan, even though Moroccans only make up 5 percent of the population.

Sub-Saharan African youngsters were among 8 percent of the deaths, although they make up only 1.4 percent of the population.

[Copyright Expatica 2005]

Subject: Belgian news