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Residency and Racial/Ethnic Differences in Weight Status and Lifestyle Behaviors Among US Youth

Authors

  • Mary Kay Kenney PhD,

    Corresponding author
    1. US Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration, Maternal and Child Health Bureau, Rockville, Maryland
    • For further information, contact: Mary Kay Kenney, PhD, US Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration, Maternal and Child Health Bureau, 5600 Fishers Lane, Rm 18–41, Rockville, MD 20857; e-mail: mkenney@hrsa.gov.

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  • Jing Wang PhD,

    1. US Department of Health and Human Services, Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, Rockville, Maryland
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  • Ron Iannotti PhD

    1. US Department of Health and Human Services, Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, Rockville, Maryland
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  • Funding: The authors have no financial interests relevant to this article to disclose. The views in this article are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the Health Resources and Services Administration or the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development of the US Department of Health and Human Services.

Abstract

Purpose

Elevated risk for obesity is found in rural environments and in some minority populations. It is unclear whether living in rural or nonmetropolitan areas and being a minority compound the risk of obesity beyond that of either factor acting alone. Our purpose was to examine adolescent obesity in light of the potential concomitant influences of race/ethnicity, residency, and obesity-related lifestyle behaviors.

Methods

We assessed obesity prevalence, physical activity, consumption of fatty snack foods, and screen time in 8,363 US adolescents based on variation in race/ethnicity and residency. Descriptive, bivariate, and multivariate statistics were used to: (1) calculate race- and residency-based rates of obesity and obesity-related lifestyle behaviors and (2) generate race- and residency-based obesity odds ratios as a function of those same behaviors.

Findings

The results indicated that nonmetropolitan black youth had the highest risk of obesity (26%), rate of consuming fatty snack foods on more than 2 days/week (86%), and rate of spending more than 2 hours/day in screen time (91%) compared to white metropolitan youth. Compared to their metropolitan counterparts, black nonmetropolitan youth had greater odds of being obese if they exercised less than daily (1.71 times), ate fatty snack foods on more than 2 days/week (1.65 times), or spent more than 2 hours/day in screen time (1.64 times).

Conclusions

Race/ethnicity and residency may have a compounding effect on the risk of obesity. Prevention and intervention must be viewed in a socioecological framework that recognizes the importance of culture and community on obesity-related behaviors.

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