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Risk Factors Contributing to Overweight, Decreased Physical Activity and Body Dissatisfaction in California Adolescents

  • Author(s): Wilkosz, Mary Ellen
  • Advisor(s): Chen, Jyu-Lin
  • et al.


The purpose of this descriptive cross-sectional study is to examine the factors that contribute to overweight, decreased physical activity and body dissatisfaction in the 12 to 17 year old, ethnically diverse California adolescent and to determine if there are differences among gender and race. Data from the 2005 California Health Interview Survey (CHIS) for adolescents self-identified as Latino, Asian, or White were reviewed. Adolescents reported weight, height, gender, ethnicity, parent education attainment, household income, physical activity, sedentary activity, breakfast consumption, family meals and body satisfaction. Parent information was also used in exploring factors contributing to decreased physical activity and these variables included parent physical activity, acculturation level and BMI. The main findings in this study were that gender and ethnic variations exist in factors contributing to overweight, decreased physical activity and body dissatisfaction in California adolescents. The key factors associated with both overweight and PA included age, gender, ethnicity, SES, screen time, and parent education attainment. The key risk factors that overlapped for body dissatisfaction and PA included general health status and BMI. A higher percentage of Latino adolescents (38%) compared to 25% of whites and 16% of Asians were overweight. Females are 1.5 times as likely to report decreased levels of physical activity compared with males. Asians were the least active and also reported the highest levels of sedentary activity. Across gender and ethnicity reports of poor/fair general health status and overweight were associated with body dissatisfaction. Latina females and Asian males were the least satisfied with their bodies. Overall, there seems to be a relationship between overweight, decreased physical activity and body dissatisfaction in California adolescents. The findings in this study support the need for development of culturally sensitive and gender specific interventions to improve the health behaviors in the adolescent population.

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