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Micro- and Macro-Level Correlates of Adiposity in Children

Yin, Zenong PhD; Moore, Justin B. PhD, MS, FACSM; Johnson, Maribeth H. MS; Vernon, Marlo M. MPH; Grimstvedt, Megan MS; Gutin, Bernard PhD

Journal of Public Health Management & Practice: September/October 2012 - Volume 18 - Issue 5 - p 445–452
doi: 10.1097/PHH.0b013e31821dce0d
Original Articles

Context: Recently, studies using a social ecological perspective have identified important micro- and macro-level risk factors for excessive adiposity in youth. Although considerable research exists examining these relationships, few studies have applied a socioecological approach to simultaneously examine both micro- and macro-level factors in young children while objectively assessing adiposity via dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry (DXA).

Objective: To examine race and sex differences in adiposity measured by DXA in a large sample of young children and to identify both micro- and macro-level correlates of adiposity.

Design: Cross-sectional.

Setting and Participants: Elementary school children (N = 495) from the southeastern United States participated. Anthropometrics, percentage body fat via DXA, and psychosocial variables via questionnaire were assessed in the Fall of 2003. Community-level sociodemographic data and built-environment variables via geographic information system were collected in Spring 2009. Data analyses were completed in the Spring of 2010.

Results: Percentage body fat in white children was higher than in nonwhite children. Higher percentage body fat and poorer cardiovascular fitness were found in females compared with males. Percentage body fat was higher in children who had lower athletic competence and lived in neighborhoods with higher percentages of minority residents.

Conclusion: This study provides preliminary support for the social-ecological model to explain variance in adiposity in children. Developers of health promotion programs for children living in minority neighborhoods should consider factors at multiple levels of the ecological model when designing and implementing programs.

This study provides preliminary support for the social-ecological model to explain variance in adiposity in children.

Department of Health and Kinesiology, University of Texas at San Antonio (Dr Yin); Department of Health Promotion, Education, & Behavior, Arnold School of Public Health, University of South Carolina, Columbia (Dr Moore); Department of Biostatistics (Dr Johnson) and Department of Pediatrics (Vermon), Georgia Health Sciences University, Augusta, Georgia; Department of Kinesiology, Northeast Lakeview College, San Antonio, Texas (Dr Grimstvedt); and Department Nutrition, Gillings School of Global Public Health, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (Dr Gutin).

Correspondence: Justin B. Moore, PhD, MS, FACSM, Department of Health Promotion, Education, & Behavior, Arnold School of Public Health, University of South Carolina, 800 Sumter St, Room 216, Columbia, SC 29208 (jmoore@mailbox.sc.edu).

No financial disclosures were reported by the authors of this article. This study was funded by the National Institutes of Health (DK063391).

The authors thank John Hanes and Janet Thornburg for coordination of data collection, Elizabeth Stewart for assistance with the data management, Dr Paule Barbeau for her consultation in data analysis and interpretation of study results, and the schools, teachers, and participants for their participation.

© 2012 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.