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To describe factors that contribute to variations in health-related behaviours and attitudes among inner city 12-year-olds. To see if there was an identifiable patterning by ethnic group.Semi-structured interviews with a stratified sample of 12-year-old students and their parents from four ethnic groups, attending state secondary schools in two inner London boroughs.Bangladeshi young people were significantly more likely to receive school meals. There was no variation in reported snacking between the groups. Girls and Bangladeshi students were less likely to report exercising outside school (33% of Bangladeshi boys reported not exercising outside school compared to 5% of boys from all other groups). Bangladeshi boys and their parents were more likely to report that bullying or worries about racial violence prevented them from going out after school. White young people were more likely to report experimenting with and the regular use of cigarettes and alcohol. Use of alcohol and cigarettes was also associated with gender, religion and strength of religious observance. White parents were the least likely to report restricting their child's social activities as a way of influencing behaviour and expressed more concerns about their child's potential for health-damaging behaviour than parents in all other groups.This study shows that ethnicity alone is insufficient and inadequate in explaining variations in health behaviours among inner city teenagers. A complex mix of personal, cultural and social factors including ethnicity shape the behaviours and attitudes of these young people.

Original publication




Journal article


Ethnicity & health

Publication Date





309 - 316


Department of Epidemiology & Public Health, University College London, UK.


Humans, Exercise, Nutrition Surveys, Attitude to Health, Feeding Behavior, Alcohol Drinking, Smoking, Health Behavior, Life Style, Child, African Continental Ancestry Group, African Americans, European Continental Ancestry Group, Ethnic Groups, Urban Population, Bangladesh, London, Female, Male