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J Pediatr Health Care. 2015 May-Jun;29(3):243-54. doi: 10.1016/j.pedhc.2014.11.005. Epub 2015 Jan 9.

An examination of eating behaviors, physical activity, and obesity in african american adolescents: gender, socioeconomic status, and residential status differences.



African American adolescents experience higher rates of obesity and have an increased risk of obesity-related diseases than do White American adolescents. Despite culturally sensitive obesity preventive interventions, obesity rates are increasing within the African American adolescent population. Current obesity interventions do not usually address the heterogeneity (e.g., socioeconomic status [SES], gender, and residential status differences) within the African American adolescent community that can affect the efficacy of these interventions.


To examine the gender, SES, and residential status differences related to obesity and weight behaviors in African American adolescents.


A descriptive correlational study was conducted with 15- to 17-year-old African American adolescents (n = 145) from community clinics, youth organizations, churches, and social networks in metropolitan and inner-city Detroit. Data were collected through use of survey methods and analyzed with use of descriptive statistics, independent sample t tests, and multiple regression equations.


Female adolescents consumed foods higher in fat and calories (t = -2.36, p = .019) and had more body fat (t = -9.37, p = .000) than did males. Adolescents of lower SES consumed food higher in fat and calories (t = -2.23, p = .027) and had higher body mass (t = -2.57, p = .011) than did adolescents of higher SES. Inner-city African American adolescents had higher levels of physical activity (t = -2.39, p = .018) and higher body mass (t = 2.24, p = .027) than did suburban African American adolescent counterparts. Gender, SES, and residential status were statistically significant predictors of eating behaviors, physical activity, body mass index, and body fat.


The initial findings from the study will assist in better understanding the obesity epidemic that affects African American adolescents in disparate proportions.


Further examination of the study variables is essential to serve as a basis for developmentally appropriate and culturally relevant targeted interventions with this population. Health care providers and obesity researchers who work with youth can use the initial findings from this study to advocate for healthy lifestyles while reducing the obesity disparity within the African American adolescent population.


African American; Obesity; eating; health disparities; physical activity

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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