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Public Health Nutr. 2007 Sep;10(9):927-38. Epub 2007 Feb 19.

Obesity and related risk factors among low socio-economic status minority students in Chicago.

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  • 1Center for Human Nutrition, Department of International Health, Bloomberg School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins University, 615 North Wolfe Street, Baltimore, MD 21205, USA.



To assess overweight and related risk factors among urban low socio-economic status (SES) African-American adolescents in an attempt to study the underlying causes of ethnicity and gender disparities in overweight.


Cross-sectional data collected on anthropometric measures, diet, physical activity and family characteristics from 498 students in grades 5-7 in four Chicago public schools were analysed to study the risk factors for overweight using stepwise regression analysis.


Only 37.2% of the students lived with two parents. Nearly 90% had a television (TV) in their bedroom, and had cable TV and a video game system at home. Overall. 21.8% (17.7% boys versus 25.1% girls) were overweight (body mass index (BMI) >/= 95th percentile); and 39.8% had a BMI >/= 85th percentile. Compared with national recommendations, they had inadequate physical activity and less than desirable eating patterns. Only 66.1% reported having at least 20 min vigorous exercise or 30 min of light exercise in >/= 5 days over the past 7 days; 62.1% spent >3 h days- 1 watching TV/playing video games/computer, while 33.1% spent >/= 5 h days- 1. Their vegetable and fruit consumption was low, and they consumed too many fried foods and soft drinks: 55.1% consumed fried food twice or more daily and 19.5% four times or more daily; 70.3% consumed soft drinks twice or more daily and 22.0% four times or more daily on average. Gender, physical activity and pocket money were significant predictors of overweight (P < 0.05).


Several factors in the students' behaviours, school and family environments may increase overweight risk among this population. There is a great need for health promotion programmes with a focus on healthy weight and lifestyle, and targeting urban low-SES minority communities.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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