Research has found that weight-teasing is associated with disordered eating in adolescents. This study expands on the existing research by examining associations between hurtful weight comments by family and a significant other and disordered eating in young adults.
Data come from 1,902 young adults (mean age 25) who completed surveys in 1998, 2003 and 2009. Correlations were examined between receiving hurtful comments from family and significant others, and four disordered eating behaviors in young adulthood, adjusting for prior disordered eating and prior teasing.
Disordered eating behaviors were common in young adulthood, and were associated with hearing hurtful weight-related comments from family members and a significant other, for both females and males.
Disordered eating prevention activities, which include messages about the potential harm associated with hurtful weight-related comments, should be expanded to address young adults, and programs may want to target relationship partners.
young adults; disordered eating; teasing; weight comments
To determine the relationship between parent time demands and presence and enforcement of family rules and parent/child dyad weight status.
Dyads of one child/parent per family (n=681dyads), Twin Cities, Minnesota, 2007–2008 had measured height/weight and a survey of demographics, time demands and family rules-related questions. Parent/child dyads were classified into four healthy weight/overweight categories. Multivariate linear associations were analyzed with SAS, testing for interaction by work status and family composition (p<0.10).
In adjusted models, lack of family rules and difficulty with rule enforcement were statistically lower in dyads in which the parent/child was healthy weight compared to dyads in which the parent/child was both overweight (Difference in family rules scores=0.49, p=0.03; difference in rule enforcement scores=1.09, p=<0.01). Of parents who worked full-time, healthy weight dyads reported lower time demands than other dyads (Difference in time demands scores=1.44, p=0.01).
Family experiences of time demands and use of family rules are related to the weight status of parents and children within families.
adult; child; weight status; time demands; family rules
Few studies have looked at the relationship between family meals and adult weight and health behaviors. The current study investigates the association between frequency of family meals and mothers’ and fathers’ body mass index (BMI), dietary intake, dieting behaviors and binge eating. Data from Project F-EAT (Families and Eating and Activity in Teens) were used for the current analysis. Socio-economically and racially/ethnically diverse mothers and fathers (n = 3,488) of adolescents participating in a multi-level population-based study (EAT 2010) completed surveys mailed to their homes. Predicted means or probabilities were calculated for each outcome variable at each level of family meal frequency. Interactions between race/ethnicity and marital status with family meals were evaluated in all models. Overall, results indicated that having more frequent family meals was associated with increased consumption of fruits and vegetables for mothers and fathers, after adjusting for age, educational attainment, marital status and race/ethnicity. Other findings including less fast food intake for fathers and fewer dieting and binge eating behaviors for mothers were significantly associated with family meal frequency, but not consistently across all family meal categories or with BMI. Interactions by race/ethnicity and marital status were non-significant, indicating that family meals may be important for more healthful dietary intake across race and marital status. Future research should confirm findings in longitudinal analyses to identify temporality and strength of associations.
Family Meals; Parents; Weight; Dietary Intake; Dieting; Binge Eating
The aim of the Bright Start study was to develop and test the effectiveness of a school environment intervention, supplemented with family involvement, to reduce excessive weight gain by increasing physical activity and healthy eating practices among kindergarten and first grade American Indian children. Bright Start was a group-randomized, school-based trial involving 454 children attending 14 schools on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. Children were followed from the beginning of their kindergarten year through the end of first grade. Main outcome variables were mean BMI, mean percent body fat, and prevalence of overweight/obese children. The goals of the intervention were to: increase physical activity at school to at least 60 min/day; modify school meals and snacks; and involve families in making behavioral and environmental changes at home. At baseline, 32% of boys and 25% of girls were overweight/obese. While the intervention was not associated with statistically significant change in mean levels of BMI, BMI-Z, skinfolds or percentage body fat, the intervention was associated with a statistically significant net decrease of 10% in the prevalence of overweight. Intervention children experienced a 13.4% incidence of overweight, while the control children experienced a corresponding incidence of 24.8%; a difference of −11.4% (p=0.033). The intervention significantly reduced parent reported mean child intakes of sugar-sweetened beverages, whole milk and chocolate milk. Changes in duration of school physical activity were not significant. Because obesity is the most daunting health challenge facing American Indian children today, more intervention research is needed to identify effective approaches.
Research is limited on how the social environment of the home is related to childhood obesity.
The purpose of this research was to examine the relationships between positive family meal practices, family stressors, and the weight of youth and to examine parental weight status as a moderator of these relationships.
The study enrolled 368 parent/child dyads from a Minnesota sample. We used mediation analysis to examine the associations
Families represented by an overweight parent reported fewer positive family meal practices (p<0.001), higher levels of depression (p=0.01), and fewer family rules (p=0.02) as compared to families represented by a healthy weight parent. For overweight parents, positive family meal practices mediated the relationship between some family stressors and child weight.
This research suggests that the home environment may affect the weight of children in the family, and the effect is more pronounced in families with at least one overweight parent.
Family meal practices; Family stressors; Youth weight
To examine secular trends from 1999 to 2010 in weight status and weight-related attitudes and behaviors among adolescents.
A repeated cross-sectional design was used. Participants were from Minneapolis/St. Paul middle schools and high schools and included 3,072 adolescents in 1999 (mean age14.6±1.8) and 2,793 adolescents in 2010 (mean age14.4±2.0). Trends in weight-related variables were examined using inverse probability weighting to control for changes in sociodemographics over time.
The prevalence of obesity among boys increased by 7.8% from 1999 to 2010, with large ethnic/racial disparities. In black boys the prevalence of obesity increased from 14.4% to 21.5% and among Hispanic boys, obesity prevalence increased from 19.7% to 33.6% Trends were more positive among girls: weight status did not significantly increase, perceptions of overweight status were more accurate, the use of healthy weight control behaviors remained high, dieting decreased by 6.7%, unhealthy weight control behaviors decreased by 8.2% and extreme weight control behaviors decreased by 4.5%.
Trends indicate a need to intensify efforts to prevent obesity and other weight-related problems, particularly for boys from ethnic/racial minorities. The decreases in unhealthy weight control behaviors among girls are encouraging.
Obesity; Adolescents; Dieting; Weight control; Secular trends; Racial disparities
To examine: (a) situational characteristics of young adult eating occasions, including away-from-home eating, social influences, and multitasking, and (b) how these characteristics are associated with specific foods/beverages consumed.
Participants logged numerous characteristics of eating occasions (n=1237) in real-time over 7 days.
Minneapolis/St. Paul metropolitan area (Minnesota, USA)
Forty-eight participants, ages 18–3 years
Half of all eating occasions (46%) occurred alone, 26% occurred while watching television and 36% involved other multitasking. Most participants (63%) did not think about their food choices in advance of eating occasions. Eating that occurred in the absence of television viewing and/or other multi-tasking was less likely to include sweetened beverages, and more likely to include items like water, fruit, vegetables, cereal, grains and entrées. Eating occasions occurring and/or those occurring at home, were more likely to include snack foods that required little preparation (e.g., cookies, baked goods), and less likely to include more traditional meal items (e.g., fruits, vegetables, entrée items).
Overall, a large proportion of young adult eating occasions occurred alone, while engaging in other activities and with little advanced planning. Although many young adult eating occasions consist of a wide range of highly processed, energy-dense, convenience products, more traditional meal settings (i.e., eating at home with others in the absence of multi-tasking) may result in more structured mealtimes and better food choices, such as more fruits and vegetables. Effective behavioral strategies promoting positive eating patterns, including home meal preparation, among young adults are urgently needed.
Dietary intake; meal patterns; young adults; emerging adults
Information regarding associations between types of away-from-home family meal sources and obesity and other chronic diseases could help guide dietitians. The present study describes the purchase frequency of away-from-home food sources for family dinner (fast food, other restaurant purchases, home delivery, and take-out foods) and associations with weight status and percent body fat among adolescents (n=723) and parents (n=723) and related biomarkers of chronic disease among adolescents (n=367). A cross-sectional study design was used with baseline parent surveys and anthropometry/fasting blood samples from two community-based obesity studies (2006–2008) in Minnesota. Logistic regression and general linear modeling assessed associations between frequency of family dinner sources (weekly versus none in past week) and outcomes (parent and adolescent overweight/obesity and percent body fat; adolescent metabolic risk cluster z-score (MRC), cholesterol, HDL-C, LDL, triglycerides, fasting glucose, insulin and systolic blood pressure. Models accounted for clustering and adjusted for study allocation, baseline meal frequency and demographic characteristics. The odds of overweight/obesity were significantly greater when families reported at least one away-from-home dinner purchase in the past week (OR=1.2–2.6). Mean percent body fat, MRC z-scores and insulin levels were significantly greater with weekly purchases of family dinner from fast food restaurants (p’s < .05). Mean percent body fat, MRC z-scores and HDL levels were significantly higher for families who purchased weekly family dinner from take-out sources (p’s < .05). Although frequent family dinners may be beneficial for adolescents, the source of dinners is likely as important in maintaining a healthy weight. Interventions should focus on encouragement of healthful family meals.
family dinner; overweight; obesity; away-from-home; adolescents
Parental encouragement of healthful eating and physical activity has been found to be associated with adolescents’ long-term healthful habits, while parental encouragement to diet has been associated with disordered eating behaviors among adolescents. However, little is known about how parental encouragement changes as adolescents grow older (longitudinal trends), or how parental encouragement has changed over time (secular trends). This study examined 5-year longitudinal and secular trends in adolescents’ report of their parents’ encouragement to eat healthfully, be physically active, and diet.
Project EAT surveyed a cohort of Minnesota adolescents (n=2516) in 1999 and 2004. Mixed-model regressions were used to assess changes in adolescents’ report of parental encouragement from early to middle adolescence (middle school to high school) and from middle to late adolescence (high school to post-high school), and secular changes in parental encouragement among middle adolescents between 1999 and 2004.
There were significant decreases in parental encouragement to eat healthfully, be active, and diet between early and middle adolescence. Between middle and late adolescence, among males parental encouragement for all behaviors decreased while among females parental encouragement to diet increased. Few secular changes in parental encouragement were observed between 1999 and 2004.
Given the importance of parental support for healthful eating and physical activity, efforts should be made to help parents maintain a high level of encouragement for their children's healthful behavior throughout adolescence. Parents of late-adolescent females should aim to decrease the pressure on their daughters to diet during these critical developmental years.
Adolescence; parenting; nutrition; physical activity; dieting; encouragement
Although there is growing interest in assessing the home food environment, no easy-to-use, low cost tools exist to assess the foods served at home meals, making it difficult to assess the meal component of the food environment. The aim of this study was to develop and validate a user-friendly screener to assess the types of foods served at home meals.
Primary food preparing adults (n = 51) participated in a validation study in their own homes. Staff and participants independently completed a screener as participants cooked dinner. The screener assessed the types of foods offered, method(s) of preparation, and use of added fats. Two scale scores were created: 1) to assess offerings of foods in five food groups (meat and other protein, milk, vegetables, fruit, grains), 2) to assess the relative healthfulness of foods based on types offered, preparation method, and added fats. Criterion validity was assessed comparing staff and participant reports of individual foods (kappa (k)) and scale scores (Spearman correlations).
Criterion validity was high between participants' and staffs' record of whether major food categories (meat and other protein, bread and cereal, salad, vegetables, fruits, dessert) were served (k = 0.79-1.0), moderate for reports of other starches (e.g., rice) being served (k = 0.52), and high for the Five Food Group and Healthfulness scale scores (r = 0.75-0.85, p < .001).
This new meal screening tool has high validity and can be used to assess the types of foods served at home meals allowing a more comprehensive assessment of the home food environment.
Validation; Meal screener; Dinner; Home; Families; Food
Weight teasing is common among adolescents, but less is known about the continuation of this experience during young adulthood. The present study uses survey data from a diverse sample of 2,287 young adults, who participated in a 10-year longitudinal study of weight-related issues to examine hurtful weight comments by family members or a significant other. Among young adults, 35.9% of females and 22.8% of males reported receiving hurtful weight-related comments by family members, and 21.2% of females and 23.8% of males with a significant other had received hurtful weight-related comments from this source. Hispanic and Asian young adults and overweight/obese young adults were more likely to report receiving comments than those in other groups. Weight teasing during adolescence predicted hurtful weight-related comments in young adulthood, with some differences by gender. Findings suggest that hurtful weight talk continues into young adulthood and is predicted by earlier weight teasing experiences.
Weight teasing; romantic relationships; emerging adults; young adults
Obesity is highly prevalent among American Indians, and effective prevention efforts require caregiver involvement. We examined American Indian (AI) parents' assessment of and level of concern about their kindergarten child's weight status.
We collected baseline data (fall of 2005 and fall of 2006) on children and their parents or caregivers for a school-based obesity prevention trial (Bright Start) on an AI reservation in South Dakota. The current study uses 413 parent-child pairs. Age- and sex-adjusted body mass index percentiles were categorized as very underweight (<5th percentile), slightly underweight (5th to <15th percentile), normal weight (15th to <85th percentile), overweight (85th to <95th percentile), and obese (≥95th percentile). Parents or caregivers reported their assessment of and concerns about their child's weight status as well as sociodemographic characteristics. We used mixed-model multivariable analysis to examine associations between sociodemographic characteristics and the probability of parents underclassifying or overclassifying their child's weight status; analyses were adjusted for school as a random effect.
Children were evenly divided by sex and had a mean age of 5.8 years. Twenty-nine percent of children and 86% of parents were overweight or obese. Approximately 33% (n = 138) of parents underclassified and 7% (n = 29) of parents overclassified their child's weight status. Higher parental weight status and higher concern about their child's weight status increased the probability of underclassification (P for trend = .02 for both).
In this sample of at-risk children, one-third of parents underclassified their child's weight status. Childhood obesity prevention programs need to increase awareness and recognition of childhood obesity and address parental weight issues.
The literature suggests positive associations between family dinner frequency and dietary practices and psychosocial well-being, and inverse associations between family dinner frequency and overweight status among general adolescent populations. The present study aims to examine these associations among a population of adolescents at-risk of academic failure.
A racially-diverse sample of adolescents (n=145, 52% male, 61% nonwhite) from six alternative high schools (AHS) completed surveys and had their heights and weights measured by trained research staff. Mixed model logistic regression analyses assessed associations between family dinner frequency and overweight status, healthy and unhealthy weight management, and food insecurity, while mixed linear models assessed associations with breakfast consumption, fruit and vegetable consumption, high fat food intake, fast food intake, substance use, and depressive symptoms. Analyses adjusted for race/ethnicity, age, gender, socioeconomic status, and the random effect of school.
Family dinner frequency was positively associated with breakfast consumption and fruit intake (p<.01 and p<.05, respectively), and inversely associated with depressive symptoms (p<.05). Adolescents who reported never eating family dinner were significantly more likely to be overweight (Odds ratio (OR) = 2.8, Confidence Interval (CI) = 1.1–6.9) and food insecure (OR=6.0, CI=2.2–16.4) than adolescents who reported 5–7 family meals per week.
In this at-risk sample of youth, some, but not all of the benefits of family meals found in other studies were apparent. Intervention programs to increase the availability and affordability of healthful foods and promote family meals for families of AHS students may be beneficial.
alternative high schools; family meals; family dinner; overweight; diversity; psychosocial well-being; at-risk; nutrition; obesity prevention
American Indian children have high rates of overweight and obesity, which may be partially attributable to screen-time behavior. Young children's screen-time behavior is strongly influenced by their environment and their parents' behavior. We explored whether parental television watching time, parental perceptions of children's screen time, and media-related resources in the home are related to screen time (ie, television, DVD/video, video game, and computer use) among Oglala Lakota youth residing on or near the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota.
We collected baseline data from 431 child and parent/caregiver pairs who participated in Bright Start, a group-randomized, controlled, school-based obesity prevention trial to reduce excess weight gain. Controlling for demographic characteristics, we used linear regression analysis to assess associations between children's screen time and parental television watching time, parental perceptions of children's screen time, and availability of media-related household resources.
The most parsimonious model for explaining child screen time included the children's sex, parental body mass index, parental television watching time, how often the child watched television after school or in the evening, parental perception that the child spent too much time playing video games, how often the parent limited the child's television time, and the presence of a VCR/DVD player or video game player in the home (F7,367 = 14.67; P < .001; adjusted R
2 = .37). The presence of a television in the bedroom did not contribute significantly to the model.
Changes in parental television watching time, parental influence over children's screen-time behavior, and availability of media-related resources in the home could decrease screen time and may be used as a strategy for reducing overweight and obesity in American Indian children.
Growth curve models examined changes in adolescent self-reported parent-child communication conditional on family meal frequency over a 3.5 year period among a population of racially-diverse, low-income adolescents from an urban environment (n = 4750). Results indicated that although both family dinner frequency and adolescent perceptions of parent-child communication scores were characterized by negative linear growth over time (both p < .0001), family dinner frequency was positively associated with adolescent perceptions of parent-child communication scores over time (p < .0001). Study findings suggest that families with teenagers may enhance parent-child communication and ultimately promote healthy adolescent development by making family dinner a priority. Additionally, the communication benefits of family dinner at the beginning of 6th grade may be protective through 8th grade.
adolescents; family dinner; family meals; parent-child communication; race/ethnicity; urban
Both obesity and depression are prominent during adolescence, and it is possible that obesity is a trigger for adolescent depression. The purpose of this paper is to evaluate whether overweight or obese status contributes to the development of depression in adolescent females.
Participants were 496 adolescent girls who completed interview based measures of depression and had their height and weight measured at 4 yearly assessments. Repeated measures logistic regressions with generalized estimating equations were used to evaluate whether overweight or obese status were associated with Major depression or an increase in depressive symptoms the following year.
Main Outcome Measures
Major depression and depressive symptoms were evaluating using a modified version of the K-SADS interview. Overweight and obese status was determined using standardized protocols to measure height and weight.
Results showed that obese status, not overweight status, was associated with future depressive symptoms, but not Major depression. This study demonstrated that obesity is a risk factor for depressive symptoms, but not for clinical depression.
As depressive symptoms are considered along the spectrum of depression with clinical depression at the high end, these results suggest that weight status could be considered a factor along the pathway of development of depression in some adolescent females.
Adolescence; obesity; depression; longitudinal
Significant sociodemographic disparities exist in the prevalence of obesity among adolescent girls, and in girls' participation in physical activity, sedentary activity, and healthful dietary intake. However, little is known of how factors in the family environment associated with weight and behavior vary by sociodemographic groups. We examined differences and similarities in the weight-related family environments of adolescent girls by race/ethnicity, parental educational attainment, and US nativity. Data are from the baseline assessment of 253 parent/daughter dyads. Parents completed survey items on the family environment; parents and girls reported their sociodemographic characteristics. Hierarchical regression models were used to test relationships between the family environment and sociodemographic characteristics. Parents of Asian girls reported qualities supportive of physical activity and healthy eating. Higher parental education was associated with more parental modeling of and support for physical activity and greater frequency of family meals. Parents of foreign-born girls reported having fewer televisions in the home, more frequent family meals, and fewer fast-food family meals. Understanding sociodemographic differences in the family environments of adolescent girls can inform the development of obesity prevention programs and reduce disparities in adolescents' weight status, physical activity, sedentary behavior, and healthful dietary intake.
Substance use and poor dietary practices are prevalent among adolescents. The purpose of this study was to examine frequency of substance use and associations between cigarette, alcohol and marijuana use and selected dietary practices, such as sugar-sweetened beverages, high-fat foods, fruits and vegetables, and frequency of fast food restaurant use among alternative high school students. Associations between multi-substance use and the same dietary practices were also examined.
A convenience sample of adolescents (n = 145; 61% minority, 52% male) attending six alternative high schools in the St Paul/Minneapolis metropolitan area completed baseline surveys. Students were participants in the Team COOL (Controlling Overweight and Obesity for Life) pilot study, a group randomized obesity prevention pilot trial. Mixed model multivariate analyses procedures were used to assess associations of interest.
Daily cigarette smoking was reported by 36% of students. Cigarette smoking was positively associated with consumption of regular soda (p = 0.019), high-fat foods (p = 0.037), and fast food restaurant use (p = 0.002). Alcohol (p = 0.005) and marijuana use (p = 0.035) were positively associated with high-fat food intake. With increasing numbers of substances, a positive trend was observed in high-fat food intake (p = 0.0003). There were no significant associations between substance use and fruit and vegetable intake.
Alternative high school students who use individual substances as well as multiple substances may be at high risk of unhealthful dietary practices. Comprehensive health interventions in alternative high schools have the potential of reducing health-compromising behaviors that are prevalent among this group of students. This study adds to the limited research examining substance use and diet among at-risk youth.
Trial registration number
The primary objective was to develop and test the feasibility and acceptability of the Healthy Home Offerings via the Mealtime Environment (HOME) program, a pilot childhood obesity prevention intervention aimed at increasing the quality of foods in the home and at family meals. Forty-four child/parent dyads participated in a randomized controlled trial (n=22 in intervention and n=22 in control conditions). The intervention program, held at neighborhood facilities, included five, 90-minute sessions consisting of interactive nutrition education, taste-testing, cooking skill building, parent discussion groups, and hands-on meal preparation. Children (8–10 year olds) and parents (89% mothers), completed assessments at their home at baseline, post-intervention, and 6-month follow-up, including psychosocial surveys, anthropometry, 24-hour dietary recalls, and home food availability and meal offering inventories. Feasibility/acceptability was assessed with participant surveys and process data. All families completed all three home-based assessments. Most intervention families (86%) attended at least 4 of 5 sessions. Nearly all parents (95%) and 71% of children rated all sessions very positively. General linear models indicated that at post-intervention, compared to control children, intervention children were significantly more likely to report greater food preparation skill development (p<.001). There were trends suggesting that intervention children had higher consumption of fruits and vegetables (p <.08), and higher intakes of key nutrients (all p-values <.05) than control children. Obesity changes did not differ by condition. Not all findings were sustained at 6-month follow-up. Obesity prevention programming with families in community settings is feasible and well accepted. Results demonstrate the potential of the HOME program.
intervention program; family meals; obesity prevention
The family environment offers several opportunities through which to improve adolescents' weight and weight-related behaviors. This study aims to examine the cross-sectional relationships between multiple factors in the family environment and physical activity (PA), television use (TV), soft drink intake, fruit and vegetable (FV) intake, body mass index (BMI), and body composition among a sample of sociodemographically-diverse adolescent girls.
Subjects included girls (mean age = 15.7), 71% of whom identified as a racial/ethnic minority, and one of their parents (dyad n = 253). Parents completed surveys assessing factors in the family environment including familial support for adolescents' PA, healthful dietary intake, and limiting TV use; parental modeling of behavior; and resources in the home such as availability of healthful food. Girls' PA and TV use were measured by 3-Day Physical Activity Recall (3DPAR) and dietary intake by survey measures. BMI was measured by study staff, and body fat by dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA). Hierarchical linear regression models tested individual and mutually-adjusted relationships between family environment factors and girls' outcomes.
In the individual models, positive associations were observed between family support for PA and girls' total PA (p = .011) and moderate-to-vigorous PA (p=.016), home food availability and girls' soft drink (p < .001) and FV (p < .001) intake, and family meal frequency and girls' FV intake (p = .023). Across the individual and mutually-adjusted models, parental modeling of PA, TV, and soft drink and FV intake was consistently associated with girls' behavior.
Helping parents improve their physical activity and dietary intake, as well as reduce time watching television, may be an effective way to promote healthful behaviors and weight among adolescent girls.
To determine if weight status affects the relationship between weight-related beliefs and consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages (SSB) and fast and convenience store food purchases (FCFP).
Twin Cities Metropolitan area, Minnesota, USA.
Body composition and psychosocial survey were obtained for 345 adolescents. General Linear Models tested adjusted (age and sex) associations between weight-related beliefs and consumption of SSB and FCFP. Significant associations were tested for moderation by weight status.
SSB was positively related to perceptions that people worry too much about their weight (β = 0.103, p = 0.016), with no moderation present. FCFP were positively associated to perceived barriers to maintaining a healthy weight (β = 0.042, p = 0.004) with a subsequent significant interaction by weight status. Stratified models showed a significant association between perceived barriers to a healthy weight and FCFP for overweight adolescents (β = 0.345, p = 0.022).
Addressing perceived barriers to a healthy diet may lead to important risk reduction.
adolescence; fast food; perceived barriers; sugar-sweetened beverage; weight status
Availability of competitive foods in schools has been linked to unhealthful dietary behaviors of students. Little is known about the food environment of alternative high schools, schools that enroll students at risk of academic failure. We examined correlations between food opportunities during the school day and selected dietary behaviors of students attending alternative high schools.
Baseline data were collected in fall 2006 as part of the Team COOL (Controlling Overweight and Obesity for Life) pilot study, a group randomized obesity prevention trial. Students (n = 145) attending 6 alternative high schools in Minneapolis/Saint Paul, Minnesota, completed a survey on food opportunities during the school day and selected dietary behaviors. We used mixed-model multivariate cross-sectional analysis and adjusted for demographic characteristics to examine associations of interest.
Food opportunities during the school day were positively associated with overall consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages, high-fat foods, and fast-food restaurant use.
Having many food opportunities during the school day at alternative high schools was linked to the consumption of foods and beverages high in sugar and fat and low in nutrients. School-based interventions should focus on changing the food environment in alternative high schools to decrease less healthful eating opportunities and to increase the availability of healthful foods and beverages.
Alternative high school students are an underserved population of youth at greater risk for poor health behaviors and outcomes. Little is known about their physical activity patterns.
The purpose of this study was to describe 1) physical activity levels of students attending alternative high schools (AHS) in St. Paul/Minneapolis, MN and 2) compliance with wearing a physical activity accelerometer.
Sixty-five students (59% male, 65% <18 years old, 51% African-American, 17% Caucasian, 32% mixed and other) wore an accelerometer during all waking hours for seven days as part of the baseline assessment for a school-based physical activity and dietary behavior intervention. Accelerometer data was reduced to summary variables using a custom software program. Compliance with wearing the accelerometer was assessed by the number of days with ≥10-hours of data. Accelerometer counts/min, and minutes spent in moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) were calculated.
Students averaged 323±143.0 counts.min-1 and 51±25.5 min.d-1 of MVPA. Minutes of MVPA.d-1 were greater on weekdays compared to the weekend (52±27.3 vs. 43±39.7 min.d-1, respectively; p=0.05). However, students wore the accelerometer less on the weekends (weekdays=17.2±3.0, weekend=14.9±6.8 hrs.d-1). Expressing minutes of MVPA as a percentage of the number of minutes of available data, students spent approximately 5% of their time in MVPA on weekdays and weekends. Forty-five percent of students had 7-days of data, 51% had 4-6 days, and 5% had fewer than four days. On average, students wore the accelerometer for 17±3.2 hrs.d-1 (range 12.0-23.8 hrs.d-1).
Compliance was high (95% of students provided at least four days of data) and physical activity was relatively low representing a vulnerable population in need of further study and intervention.
accelerometer; MVPA; weekday; weekend; compliance
The purpose of the present study is to investigate the relationships between alcohol-related informal social control and parental monitoring on alcohol use, behavior and intentions; violent behavior; and delinquent behavior in a racially diverse population of young urban adolescents. Baseline surveys were administered to 6th grade male and female students in 61 urban Chicago schools as part of Project Northland Chicago, a group randomized trial for the prevention/reduction of substance use. A subset of their parents (n=3034) was also surveyed regarding alcohol use, violence, and delinquency and related issues. Structural equation modeling was used to assess relationships between alcohol-related informal social control (as measured by parental perceptions of neighborhood action regarding youth drinking) and parental monitoring (as reported by parents), and three adolescent outcomes (alcohol use, behaviors and intentions; violent behavior; and delinquent behavior; as reported by teens). Associations between alcohol-related informal social control and parental monitoring were positive and significant (p<.001). Direct paths from parental monitoring to all three adolescent outcomes were negative and statistically significant (alcohol use, behaviors and intentions, p<.001; violent behavior, p<.001; and delinquent behavior, p<.001). Alcohol-related informal social control was not significantly associated with adolescent outcomes. Efforts to engage parents to be more active in monitoring adolescents’ activities may be related to lower levels of underage drinking, violence and delinquency among both female and male urban youth. Neighborhood norms and action against teenage drinking may be too distal to adolescent outcomes to be directly associated.
Parental monitoring; Alcohol-related informal social control; Adolescent behaviors; Alcohol; Delinquency; Violence