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Click to add/remove this article to your list of 'My Favorites' A Social Ecological Model of Obesity in Overweight African American Adolescents

Year: 2007

Abstract Number: 1872-P


Results: Social ecological models hold promise for understanding and intervening with the multiple factors that interact to produce obesity in youth (Davison & Birch, 2001). This presentation will describe the individual, family and community ecology of 49 severely overweight (e.g., > 95th BMI percentile) African American adolescents (12-17 yrs) and their caregivers who consented to participate in a treatment outcome study. Individual child factors assessed included mental health, nutrition knowledge, and motivation to change behaviors related to overweight. Eighteen teens (36.7%) were in the range for clinical depression. Most demonstrated some understanding of nutrition, e.g., over 90% correctly agreed that experts recommend eating more vegetables and less sugary foods. Teens were most confused by recommendations regarding fiber and fat content. Many teens indicated that they were ready to change (42.9%) or changing (22.5%) their eating habits. Family factors included parent's weight status and mental health, supervision of the youth, and motivation to promote weight loss. Over 75% of parents had a BMI over 30 (obese) and 49% over 40. Nearly 40% were within the clinical range for depression. Most parents were aware of their teen's eating and exercise behaviors, but 88% did not regularly check their teen's weight. Teens concurred that parents rarely checked their weight or what foods they ate when alone. Few parents said they felt ready to supervise their teen's diet (18.8%) or exercise (16.7%). Extra-familial factors included available neighborhood resources. Despite the limited number of grocery stores in some inner-city areas, nearly 75% of families said they shopped at grocery stores and never or rarely at convenience stores. Most parents did not use community resources (e.g., parks) for exercise. Individual, family, and community factors such as these have not been simultaneously studied in this population and studies of overweight minority adolescents are rare. Results provide support for a social ecological model and suggest targets for intervention with this specific population. Future research comparing overweight and normal weight teens is necessary to confirm these findings.