Physical, Behavioral, and Body Image Characteristics in a Tri-Racial Group of Adolescent Girls

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School of Education, PO Box 248065, University of Miami, Coral Gables, FL 33124. E-mail: aperry@miami.edu

Abstract

Objectives: The purpose of this study was to evaluate physical characteristics, nutrient intake, physical activity level, and body image in white (CC), African-American (AA), and Hispanic-American (HA) female adolescents.

Research Methods and Procedures: High school volunteers were solicited for this study. Self-reported information was used to determine subject characteristics, family income, physical activity, body image, and nutrient intake. Physical evaluations were used to determine body mass index, percent body fat, fat distribution, resting heart rate, and blood pressure (BP).

Results: Results showed that AA girls displayed significantly higher diastolic BP than HA girls (p = 0.029). CC adolescents showed greater physical activity (p = 0.010) and lower adiposity than HA adolescents (p = 0.048), as well as lower subscapular skinfold than AA adolescents (p = 0.018). AA adolescents selected a higher ideal body size than CC girls (p = 0.038). There was also a significant difference in percentage carbohydrates (p < 0.034) and cholesterol consumed (p < 0.016) among groups, with CC girls showing the highest values for carbohydrates and lowest values for cholesterol intake among groups.

Discussion: Given our findings of higher adiposity and lower physical activity levels in HA adolescents and greater diastolic BP levels and subscapular skinfold in AA adolescents, more interventions should be targeted toward improving health-related variables among minority populations.

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