Adolescents Health Behaviors and Obesity


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Does race affect this epidemic?


In the world today, obesity and corpulence are a pandemic across gender, age, race, or economic status in people. Amongst the adolescents, there is a great increase in the number affected. As a result, the quality of life has highly been affected by the resulting health problem issues. Adolescents with obesity are placed at higher risk of heart, diabetes and hypertension diseases. The effects of obesity and corpulence have triggered the need to establish the relationship among race, health behaviors and obesity which is the purpose of this study using the structural equation model (SEM).

The model tested whether race influences association of adolescents attributes, on obesity. It was hypothesized that a) family with low socioeconomic status (SES) would increase body mass index, BMI, b) low exuberant physical activity coupled with few hours of sleep increases the BMI, c) family with high socioeconomic status would decrease BMI, d) inactive activities would increase BMI. This is a qualitative study where comparisons are made on the basis of the qualities of a given race.

Subjects and methods


The independent variables are families SES, exuberant physical activities, inactive practices, adolescents level of healthy eating, and sleeping time. The dependent variables are adolescents obesity and adolescents attributes.

Socioeconomic status

Conceptually, families with high SES easily provided adequate food of all kinds to their families hence decreased BMI as compared to low SES families who had increased BMI.

Exuberant physical activities

Conceptually, individuals involved in energetic physical activities decreased their BMI compared to those engaging in low or none at all.

Inactive family activities

Conceptually, the less time was dedicated to motile activities the higher the chances of obesity.

Adolescents level of healthy eating

Adolescents with high intakes of fruits and vegetables rarely increased body fats compared to those who don’t hence decreased BMI.

Adolescents’ obesity

Overweight in adolescents occurs when their BMI is between the 85th and 95thth percentile. BMI is the ratio of weight in kg to height in m2. percentile of their BMI while obesity occurs above 95

Hours of sleep

Inadequate sleep leads to increased BMI, increased diabetes risk, and heart problems. Adolescents normal sleep hours was 7 .6

Statistical analysis

Five indices were used: Chi-square with p-value>0.05; root mean square error of appropriation (RMSEA)  < 0.05; comparative fit index(CFI) > 0.95; standardized root mean square residual(SRMR) < 0.05; and adjusted goodness of fit index (AGFI) >0.95.


The findings support the hypothesis of family SES contributing to the increase in overweight and obesity among African American and Caucasian adolescents. Family SES had a significant positive influence on Caucasian adolescents obesity, unlike for African Americans. Caucasian adolescents from lower income families showed a consistent relationship between SES and obesity. This means that minority of adolescents need to survive under adverse conditions hence less sensitive to impact of family poverty as compared to Caucasians who may not be contented. It was hypothesized that adolescents with low levels of vigorous physical activities and few hours of sleep would increase obesity. Sedentary lifestyle would also increase obesity.

The findings, that high level of physical activities and daily consumption of sufficient fruits and vegetables decreased the rate of obesity. More so, being inactive increases chances of obesity. The relationship between nightly hours of sleep and obesity was negligible. Other factors of consideration would be relationship between age and family SES; Cultural values and practices. Caucasian adolescents with low family SES had higher risk for overweight and obesity.


It was found that relevant relationship exist between high levels of vigorous activities and lower obesity in adolescents. Further more, race was the moderating factor in adolescents health behaviors e.g. inactive lifestyle and hours of sleep) and its association with overweight and obesity, propose the presence of cultural beliefs and practices to be considered for intervention and prevention.


Bernice A. Dodor, Mack C. Shelley and Cheryl O. Hausafus. Adolescents health behaviors and       obesity: does race affect this epidemic. Retrieved from web on February 17, 2011.


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