Non-western immigrants live longer

Diet and bad habits kill ethnic Danes and other westerners earlier

Immigrants to Denmark with a non-western background live longer than ethnic Danish men and women. According to a report to be published tomorrow by the national social appeals board, Ankestyrelsen, 65-year-old immigrants from the Middle East, Africa and the Far East can expect to live about a year longer than ethnic Danes and immigrants with Western backgrounds.

Manu Sareen (R), the integration minister, said the report makes a lie out of the widespread belief that immigrants to Denmark are generally weak and unhealthy.

“I am surprised by the results,” Sareen told Berlingske newspaper. “There's a strongly-held belief about immigrants that they are largely vulnerable, but this analysis paints a picture that the vast majority are living strong and healthy lives.”

Smoking and drinking and frikadeller
Although the report doesn’t point out any reasons for the longevity of non-western immigrants, experts suggest that immigrants from places like Africa and the Far East are resourceful people who consume a healthier diet and less tobacco and alcohol than ethnic Danes.

Ethnic Danish women smoke more than any other female group in the world, while tobacco use is much less common among immigrant women.

READ MORE: The good, the bad and the immigrant

Sareen pointed out that there were cultural differences between ethnic Danes and immigrants when it comes to bad habits.

“When I eat with Danish friends, we drink red wine and a big fat steak with béarnaise sauce, and then half the group goes outside for a smoke,” Sareen told Berlingske.

"When I meet with immigrant friends, we drink soda or tea and alcohol is virtually non-existent.”

Sareen said that Denmark is a dangerous mix of "the Mediterranean alcohol culture with Viking drinking habits”.

There are just over a million people over the age of 65 living in Denmark, of which approximately 4.3 percent are immigrants. The number and proportion of elderly immigrants is expected to grow significantly in the coming years.





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