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J Phys Act Health. 2011 Feb;8(2):200-9.

Ethnic, gender, and BMI differences in athletic identity in children and adolescents.

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  • 1Department of Pediatrics, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX, USA.



Little is known about differences in athletic self-concept that are related to ethnicity, gender, and overweight status, which may influence physical activity behavior.


Children (N=936) and adolescents (N=1071) completed the Athletic Identity Questionnaire, measuring athletic appearance, competence, importance of activity, and encouragement from parents, teachers, and friends. Multivariate ANOVA assessed group differences and interactions on the 6 subscales.


Interaction effects were found in children (Ethnic×Gender; Ethnic×BMI), and ethnic, gender, and BMI (body mass index) main effects in adolescents. In children, Hispanic girls had lower appearance and competence ratings. Within weight categories, normal-weight Hispanic children had lower appearance and importance ratings compared with whites, and obese black children had lower importance ratings than obese whites and Hispanics. In adolescents, there were lower appearance and competence ratings among Hispanics and obese students, lower importance ratings among girls and Hispanics, and less parental encouragement in Hispanics. No gender, ethnic, or BMI differences on encouragement from teachers were found in either children or adolescents.


More negative athletic self-perceptions and less parental encouragement were seen in minorities. Consideration of these factors will be important in interventions to promote physical activity.

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