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Nutr Res Pract. 2010 Dec;4(6):528-34. doi: 10.4162/nrp.2010.4.6.528. Epub 2010 Dec 28.

Adolescents' health behaviors and obesity: Does race affect this epidemic?

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Department of Child Development and Family Relations, East Carolina University, Greenville, NC 27858, USA.


This study explores the influence of health behaviors and individual attributes on adolescent overweight and obesity using data from Wave II (Add Health). Structural equation model/path analysis using maximum likelihood estimation was utilized to analyze the relationships of health behaviors and attributes with obesity. Results of the model reveal that the causal paths (adolescents' attributes and health behaviors) for overweight and obesity were different for African American and Caucasian adolescents. Generally, African Americans were more susceptible to overweight and obesity than Caucasians. Although increasing levels of vigorous physical activities lowers the risk for obesity among African American and Caucasian adolescents alike, low family SES and being sedentary were associated with overweight and obesity among Caucasians. No significant associations were found among African Americans. Increased hours of sleep at night relate positively with obesity among African Americans. These findings suggest important elements in the consideration of race in developing effective intervention and prevention approaches for curbing the obesity epidemic among U.S. adolescents.


Adolescents; SES; health behaviors; obesity; racial disparities

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