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Obesity (Silver Spring). 2011 Mar;19(3):652-8. doi: 10.1038/oby.2010.228. Epub 2010 Oct 7.

Identifying patterns of eating and physical activity in children: a latent class analysis of obesity risk.

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The Institute for Health Promotion & Disease Prevention Research (IPR), University of Southern California, Alhambra, California, USA.


We used latent class analysis (LCA) to identify heterogeneous subgroups with respect to behavioral obesity risk factors in a sample of 4th grade children (n = 997) residing in Southern California. Multiple dimensions assessing physical activity, eating and sedentary behavior, and weight perceptions were explored. A set of 11 latent class indicators were used in the analysis. The final model yielded a five-class solution: "High-sedentary, high-fat/high-sugar (HF/HS) snacks, not weight conscious," "dieting without exercise, weight conscious," "high-sedentary, HF/HS snacks, weight conscious," "active, healthy eating," and "low healthy, snack food, inactive, not weight conscious." The results suggested distinct subtypes of children with respect to obesity-related risk behaviors. Ethnicity, gender, and a socioeconomic status proxy variable significantly predicted the above latent classes. Overweight or obese weight status was determined based on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention BMI (kg/m²)-for-age-and-sex percentile (overweight, 85th percentile ≤ BMI < 95th percentile; obese, 95th percentile ≤ BMI). The identified latent subgroup membership, in turn, was associated with the children's weight categories. The results suggest that intervention programs could be refined or targeted based on children's characteristics to promote effective pediatric obesity interventions.

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