Influence of physical and sedentary activity preferences on body mass index for Urban African American Youth


The high incidence and increased prevalence of childhood obesity has led to multiple efforts for intervention specifically aimed at increasing levels of physical activity (PA). Preferences for physical activities and sedentary activities have been linked as potential mediators to objectively measured PA participation. However; little research has evaluated whether these preferences are related to Body Mass Index (BMI), particularly in African American children. The purpose of this study was to explore the relationships among BMI and preferences for physical activities and sedentary activities in urban African American youth, a population at increased risk for obesity related heatlh problems. Cross-sectional data were analyzed from 75 10- to 16-year-old African American children who were attending the local chapter of the National Youth Summer Program. Of the participants, 53.3% were male and 46.7% were female. The mean age of study participants was 12.29 (± 1.86) years old. Participants mean grade level was 7.27 (± 1.93). Eleven children and adolescents (14.6%) were at risk for becoming overweight and seventeen children and adolescents (21.2%) were overweight according to age-sex specific percentile BMI guidelines of the Centers for Disease Control (Kuczmarski et al., 2000). Due to age interaction, four separate multiple linear regression models were analyzed based on age category. Preadolescents were defined as 10-12 year olds and adolescents were defined as 13-16 year olds. The dependent variable was age- and gender-specific body mass index percentile. Independent variables were childrens' self-reported preferences for physical activities or sedentary activities with gender as a covariate. Preferences for physical activities and sedentary activities are represented via two scales with higher scores indicating higher preferences. For preadolescents (n = 43) preference for physical activities significantly explained 16.4% of the variance in BMI (p = .028) after controlling for gender. A lower BMI was related to a higher preference for physical activities (β = -32.82, p = .01), mainly soccer and outdoor play. Also for preadolescents, preference for sedentary activities significantly explained 17.9% of the variance in BMI (p = .020) after controlling for gender. A lower BMI was related to a higher preference for sedentary activities (β = -31.25, p = .01). The major sedentary activities that were contributors were watching television, watching movies or videos on a VCR or DVD, playing video games, and listening to the radio, tapes or CDs. However, there were no significant relationships found among preferences and BMI for adolescent children (n =32). These results add to a growing body of literature explaining the potential influences of activity preference on BMI among African American youth; a high-risk, understudied population. More specifically, preadolescence might be an ideal time for obesity prevention in that the encouragement of activities could lead to increased activity levels for African Americans. © 2010 Nova Science Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved.

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Race and Ethnicity: Cultural Roles, Spiritual Practices and Social Challenges

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