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Ethn Dis. 2011 Spring;21(2):163-9.

Occurrence and correlates of overweight and obesity among island Puerto Rican youth.

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Department of Health Services, UCLA School of Public Health, Los Angeles, CA 90095, USA.


OBJECTIVE AND MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: This article provides 2005-2008 population-based prevalence data on obesity and overweight among youth residing in Puerto Rico.


Data for this report are from the Asthma, Depression, and Anxiety in Puerto Rican Youth (ADA) study. Measures included height and weight level data on youth in Puerto Rico aged 10 to 19 years with and without asthma as well as body mass index data on their caregivers.


A total of 436 youth-caregiver dyads were selected and weighted to represent the general population of youth in Puerto Rico using 2008 US Census data.


Household surveys demonstrated that 40% of youth aged 10 to 19 were overweight or obese. Twenty-five percent met moderate-to-vigorous-intensity physical activity guidelines, however, physical activity was not associated with overweight or obesity in this sample. In multivariate analyses, females were 50% less likely than males to be overweight or obese. Older youth were 73% less likely to be overweight or obese than younger youth. Youth whose parents were obese were more than two times more likely to be overweight or obese than those whose parents were at a desirable weight.


Youth in Puerto Rico have higher rates of overweight and obesity and lower compliance to moderate-to-vigorous-intensity physical activity guidelines than rates reported for youth on the mainland. More population-based research is needed to understand the epidemiology of obesity and overweight among island Puerto Rican youth and the contribution of physical activity to the phenomenon.

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