Physical activity in early adolescent girls : an examination of biological, affective, interpersonal and sociocultural influences
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Pediatric overweight is defined as a body mass index (BMI) for age of 85th-95th percentile, and occurs in approximately 33.6% of adolescents 12-19 years of age. Hispanic adolescents are disproportionately at risk for overweight. Excess weight can predispose adolescents to develop diabetes mellitus type 2, coronary artery disease, hypertension, hypercholesterolemia, sleep apnea, osteoporosis, asthma, and certain types of cancer, whereas physical activity can help prevent and treat these diseases. Little is known about the factors that contribute to physical activity in Hispanic adolescent girls. The purpose of this study was to examine and compare the influence of personal characteristics, perceptual influences, interpersonal influences and sociocultural influences on physical activity in White and Hispanic adolescent girls. The theoretical framework for this study was self-designed--the Physical Activity Lifestyle Model. Data for this cross-sectional study was collected from girls age 11-14 who presented to the Children's Wellness Center in Del Valle, TX (N = 121) in the summers of 2011 and 2012. Most participants self-identified as Hispanic (n = 106). Participants completed a survey consisting of a 1-day physical activity recall, a demographic questionnaire, and several validated (primarily Likert-type) questionnaires. Height and weight were measured in the clinic. Data analysis began with descriptive analysis (mean, standard deviation and percentage) of demographic characteristics, dependent and independent variables, then Pearson correlations, and finally multiple linear regression to determine the influence of the independent variables on physical activity. No significant differences were found between ethnic groups on age, grade or school (p > .05). Physical activity was significantly related to body image (r = .189, p < .05), friend social support (r = .279, p < .01), and family social support (r = .401, p < .01). In addition, physical activity significantly predicted BMI percentile (B = -.043, SE = .019, t = -2.249, p = .027), appearance-related media messages (B = .259, SE = .127, t = 2.038, p = .044), pressures to be thin (B = .311, SE = .149, t = 2.082, p = .040), family social support for physical activity (B = .089, SE = .042, t = 2.139, p = .035), body image (B = .367, SE = .123, t = 2.987, p = .004), and physical activity enjoyment (B = .083, SE = .040, t = 2.089, p = .040). When designing an intervention to promote physical activity, health care providers and educators should consider that multiple external factors influence physical activity participation in Hispanic adolescent girls. Healthcare providers should involve parents and siblings in physical activity interventions for overweight adolescent girls. Interventions should be tailored to work with the adolescent girls' physical and social environment. Public health nurses should work with schools and communities to increase physical activity opportunities for adolescent girls in physical education classes, girls' sports, and after-school programs.