From Morocco to Italy: how Women’s Bodies Reflect their Change of Residence

Fatima Maqoud, Eligio Vacca, Mila Tommaseo-Ponzetta


The body structure and nutritional status of Moroccan women who have immigrated to Italy are examined here in relation to changes in their alimentary behaviors and life-styles, and compared with those of women living in Morocco, who still retain a traditional rural life-style.

It is known that the choice to migrate to a foreign country may not only lead to conflicting situations, when the people involved encounter socio-cultural contexts which are very different from those of their original countries, but such choices may also involve severe consequences for health and nutritional status, following changes in alimentary behaviors and life-styles.

Among groups recently migrated to Italy, the Moroccan community is an appropriate reference to highlight these effects. The choice to examine women as the focus of this survey allows extension of observations of their nutritional behavior to the whole family group.

According to the bio-indicators examined here, groups of immigrant women are quite different from those remaining at home. The former show a considerable increase in weight, as assessed by both anthropometric and impedentiometric parameters. More than one-third of Moroccan immigrant women are obese, to an extent well beyond that of women in Morocco. The cause of this difference is ascribed to quantitative and qualitative changes induced after migration. Migrant women tend to adopt a mixed diet, which includes both traditional food and that typical of the host country. However, there is a considerable increase in the use of prepared foods, such as pasta, among farinaceous products, and meat, although vegetables and fruit are also consumed.

Moroccan women consider both their socio-economic status and alimentary behavior as very private matters - an attitude which makes it difficult to recruit them for this kind of research. Future interventions require their preliminary acceptance and involvement in research aims, to demonstrate its great importance in improving the health status of present and future immigrants.


immigrant women, Morocco, Italy, nutritional status, dietary change

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