Skip Navigation LinksHome > December 2010 - Volume 42 - Issue 12 > Physical Activity in US Youth: Effect of Race/Ethnicity, Age...
Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise:
doi: 10.1249/MSS.0b013e3181e1fba9
Basic Sciences

Physical Activity in US Youth: Effect of Race/Ethnicity, Age, Gender, and Weight Status

BELCHER, BRITNI R.1; BERRIGAN, DAVID2; DODD, KEVIN W.2; EMKEN, B. ADAR1; CHOU, CHIH-PING1; SPRUIJT-METZ, DONNA1

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Abstract

Purpose: To describe physical activity (PA) levels by race/ethnicity, age, gender, and weight status in a representative sample of US youth.

Methods: Cross-sectional data from the 2003-2004 and 2005-2006 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey were combined and analyzed. Youth aged 6-19 yr with at least four 10-h days of PA measured by accelerometry were included (n = 3106). Outcomes included mean counts per minute and minutes spent in moderate-to-vigorous PA (MVPA).

Results: Among the groups, the 6- to 11-yr-olds spent more time (88 min·d−1) in MVPA than the 12- to 15-yr-olds (33 min·d−1) and 16- to 19-yr-olds (26 min·d−1; P < 0.001 for both). Females spent fewer minutes per day in MVPA than males (P < 0.001). Overall, obese youth spent 16 fewer minutes per day in MVPA than normal-weight youth. However, non-Hispanic white males spent three to four fewer minutes per day in vigorous PA than Mexican American (MA; P = 0.004) and non-Hispanic black (P < 0.001) males but had lower obesity rates and obese 12- to 15-yr-old MA recorded similar minutes in MVPA per day as normal-weight MA (P > 0.050). There was a significant three-way age-body mass index-race/ethnicity interaction for mean minutes per day in MVPA (P < 0.001). Adjustment for total energy intake did not qualitatively alter these results.

Conclusions: Females and older youth were the least active groups. Obese youth were generally less active, but this did not hold uniformly across race/ethnic groups. Cultural or biological factors could moderate the association between PA and obesity in youth.

©2010The American College of Sports Medicine

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