Ethnic disparities in teen exercise: Do schools play a role?

June 05, 2006

A study of 17,000 U.S. adolescents finds that black and Hispanic girls are less physically active than white girls, but that this difference is attributable to the schools they attend: black, white and Hispanic girls attending the same school have no difference in physical activity. In contrast, among boys, blacks and Hispanics were more physically active than whites attending the same schools. The researchers, led by Tracy Richmond, MD, in the Division of Adolescent Medicine at Children's Hospital Boston, report and discuss their findings in the June issue of Pediatrics.

Richmond and colleagues carefully analyzed data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, a school-based study of 7th-to-12th graders.

"Obesity is a growing problem in all adolescents, but it affects racial and ethnic minorities disproportionately," Richmond says. "Since physical activity is one protective factor against obesity that we can influence, we wanted to know whether schools might help determine physical activity levels."

Their key findings are as follows:In the case of boys, the finding of more physical activity among blacks and Hispanics than among whites at the same school could be seen as positive and health-promoting, the authors write, or it could also reflect minority males being differentially channeled into sports rather than academics.

The researchers note that they weren't able to assess whether their findings reflect differences in the schools themselves - such as inequalities in gym facilities and programs - or whether the school differences reflected social or cultural factors in the surrounding neighborhood or community that might influence teens' physical activity patterns. "The influence of schools clearly affects boys and girls differentially," Richmond says. "School-based policy interventions aimed at increasing physical activity may need to use different strategies for boys than for girls."
-end-
The study was funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, and the Maternal and Child Health Leadership Education in Adolescent Health Training Program.

Founded in 1869 as a 20-bed hospital for children, Children's Hospital Boston today is the nation's leading pediatric medical center, the largest provider of health care to Massachusetts children, and the primary pediatric teaching hospital of Harvard Medical School. In addition to 347 pediatric and adolescent inpatient beds and comprehensive outpatient programs, Children's houses the world's largest research enterprise based at a pediatric medical center, where its discoveries benefit both children and adults. More than 500 scientists, including eight members of the National Academy of Sciences, nine members of the Institute of Medicine and 11 members of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute comprise Children's research community. For more information about the hospital visit: http://www.childrenshospital.org.

Boston Children's Hospital

Related Physical Activity Articles from Brightsurf:

Physical activity in the morning could be most beneficial against cancer
The time of day when we exercise could affect the risk of cancer due to circadian disruption, according to a new study with about 3,000 Spanish people  

Physical activity and sleep in adults with arthritis
A new study published in Arthritis Care & Research has examined patterns of 24-hour physical activity and sleep among patients with rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and knee osteoarthritis.

Regular physical activity seems to enhance cognition in children who need it most
Researchers at the Universities of Tsukuba and Kobe re-analyzed data from three experiments that tested whether physical activity interventions lead to improved cognitive skills in children.

The benefits of physical activity for older adults
New findings published in the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports reveal how physically active older adults benefit from reduced risks of early death, breast and prostate cancer, fractures, recurrent falls, functional limitations, cognitive decline, dementia, Alzheimer's disease, and depression.

Physical activity may protect against new episodes of depression
Increased levels of physical activity can significantly reduce the odds of depression, even among people who are genetically predisposed to the condition.

Is physical activity always good for the heart?
Physical activity is thought to be our greatest ally in the fight against cardiovascular disease.

Physical activity in lessons improves students' attainment
Students who take part in physical exercises like star jumps or running on the spot during school lessons do better in tests than peers who stick to sedentary learning, according to a UCL-led study.

Physical activity may attenuate menopause-associated atherogenic changes
Leisure-time physical activity is associated with a healthier blood lipid profile in menopausal women, but it doesn't seem to entirely offset the unfavorable lipid profile changes associated with the menopausal transition.

Are US adults meeting physical activity guidelines?
The proportion of US adults adhering to the 'Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans' from the US Department of Health and Human Services didn't significantly improve between 2007 and 2016 but time spent sitting increased.

Children from disadvantaged backgrounds do less vigorous physical activity
Children from disadvantaged backgrounds and certain ethnic minority backgrounds, including from Pakistani and Bangladeshi backgrounds, have lower levels of vigorous physical activity, according to researchers at the University of Cambridge.

Read More: Physical Activity News and Physical Activity Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.