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J Community Health. 2011 Aug;36(4):612-5. doi: 10.1007/s10900-010-9349-z.

Seat belt use among overweight and obese adolescents.

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  • 1Department of Health and Rehabilitative Services, University of Toledo, Mailstop 119, Toledo, OH 43606, USA.


Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for adolescents. Previous studies with adults found an association between weight status and decreased use of seat belts. Research has also found significantly higher morbidity and mortality rates in obese individuals who are involved in motor vehicle crashes. If these relationships hold true in obese adolescents they represent additional risk factors for complications from motor vehicle trauma. Given the prevalence of obesity in adolescents (17.4%) and the increased risk of harm associated with obese individuals involved in motor vehicle crashes, this study explored whether there was an association between obesity in adolescents and their use of seat belts. Initial investigation found that rarely/never wearing seat belts was significantly greater for African Americans (22.6%), 18 years of age or older (19.4%), lived with adults other than both parents (15.7%), and males (15.4%). Bivariate logistic regression analysis controlling for demographic variables found that there was no statistically significant difference between overweight and normal weight adolescents. However, obese students were 1.72 times as likely as normal weight students to never or rarely wear their seat belts when riding in a car as a passenger. In particular, obese females and obese students in the middle school age ranges were statistically significantly more likely than normal weight students to never or rarely wear their seat belts.

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