The effects of individual attributes, health behaviors, and religion on adolescent obesity: a study of African American and Caucasian adolescents
The purpose of this study was to explore the influence of individual attributes (family socioeconomic status, gender, and race) and health behavior factors (vigorous physical activity, sedentary activity, dietary intake, and sleeping pattern) as well as religion (religious affiliations and religious commitment) on African American and Caucasian adolescents' body weight. The sample for this study consisted of African American and Caucasian adolescents (N = 3,596) aged 14-18 years at Wave II of the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health). Stratification of the percentage of adolescents based on CDC growth charts indicates greater prevalence of overweight and obesity among African American than Caucasian adolescents. Structural equation modeling was used to analyze the relationships of these attributes and health behaviors with adolescent's adiposity. Based on this model, multigroup comparisons between African American and Caucasian models were performed to determine the varied relationships of these variables with body weight. In both models, vigorous physical activity protected against overweight and obesity. The model for African Americans seems to fit the data better than does the model for Caucasians; however, the model for Caucasians had more significant pathways than the model for African Americans. In addition, the multiple group comparison regarding religiously committed African American and Caucasian adolescents, without controlling for religious affiliations, indicates that the influence of religiosity on youth adiposity is moderated by race.