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Childhood obesity: A comparison of health habits of middle-school students from two communities

Authors Jackson E, Eagle T, Leidal A, Gurm R, Smolarski J, Goldberg C, Rogers B, Eagle KA

Published 3 November 2009 Volume 2009:1 Pages 133—139


Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 2

Elizabeth A Jackson1,3, Taylor Eagle3, Adam Leidal3, Roopa Gurm3,  Joe Smolarski3, Caren Goldberg2, Bruce Rogers3, Kim A Eagle1,3

1Division of Cardiovascular Medicine, Department of Internal Medicine, 2Division of Pediatric Cardiology, Department of Pediatrics, 3Michigan Cardiovascular Research and Reporting Program, University of Michigan health System, Ann Arbor, MI, USA

Objective: To assess whether children’s diet and physical activity patterns differ between neighboring communities with differing resources.

Study design and setting: We compared the health behaviors of middle-school students in two Michigan communities; Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti; median household income of US$46,299 and 28,610, respectively. Self-reported diet and physical activity habits were collected.

Participants: A total of 733 middle-school students from two neighboring communities (five Ann Arbor and two Ypsilanti middle schools) participated in the study.

Measures: Data on age, gender, and racial/ethnic factors were collected as part of the baseline assessment. Students were also measured for height and weight. Body mass index was calculated. Information on diet and physical activity in addition to amounts and types of sedentary activities was assessed via questionnaires.

Results: More Ypsilanti schoolchildren were obese compared to the Ann Arbor schoolchildren (22.2% vs 12.6%; P = 0.01). The Ypsilanti schoolchildren reported higher consumption of fried meats (7.5% vs 3.2%; P = 0.02), French fries or chips (14.3% vs 7.9%; P = 0.02), punch or sports drinks (24.1% vs 12.2%; P = 0.001) and soda (18% vs 7.9%; P < 0.001) compared to the Ann Arbor children. School-based activities including physical education classes (58.6% vs 89.7%; P < 0.001) and sports teams (34.6% vs 62.8%; P < 0.001) differed for Ypsilanti schoolchildren vs Ann Arbor children. Sedentary behaviors were higher in the Ypsilanti children.

Conclusions: Differences in diet and physical activity habits among children from two neighboring communities with varying resources suggests a need for school-based interventions to promote healthy behaviors among middle-school students.

Keywords: childhood obesity, diet, physical activity, community health

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