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Childhood obesity: A comparison of health habits of middle-school students from two communities

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      To assess whether children’s diet and physical activity patterns differ between neighboring communities with differing resources.

      Study design and setting:

      We compared the health behaviors of middle-school students in two Michigan communities; Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti; median household income of US$46,299 and 28,610, respectively. Self-reported diet and physical activity habits were collected.


      A total of 733 middle-school students from two neighboring communities (five Ann Arbor and two Ypsilanti middle schools) participated in the study.


      Data on age, gender, and racial/ethnic factors were collected as part of the baseline assessment. Students were also measured for height and weight. Body mass index was calculated. Information on diet and physical activity in addition to amounts and types of sedentary activities was assessed via questionnaires.


      More Ypsilanti schoolchildren were obese compared to the Ann Arbor schoolchildren (22.2% vs 12.6%; P = 0.01). The Ypsilanti schoolchildren reported higher consumption of fried meats (7.5% vs 3.2%; P = 0.02), French fries or chips (14.3% vs 7.9%; P = 0.02), punch or sports drinks (24.1% vs 12.2%; P = 0.001) and soda (18% vs 7.9%; P < 0.001) compared to the Ann Arbor children. School-based activities including physical education classes (58.6% vs 89.7%; P < 0.001) and sports teams (34.6% vs 62.8%; P < 0.001) differed for Ypsilanti schoolchildren vs Ann Arbor children. Sedentary behaviors were higher in the Ypsilanti children.


      Differences in diet and physical activity habits among children from two neighboring communities with varying resources suggests a need for school-based interventions to promote healthy behaviors among middle-school students.

      Related collections

      Most cited references 26

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      Prevalence of overweight and obesity in the United States, 1999-2004.

      The prevalence of overweight in children and adolescents and obesity in adults in the United States has increased over several decades. To provide current estimates of the prevalence and trends of overweight in children and adolescents and obesity in adults. Analysis of height and weight measurements from 3958 children and adolescents aged 2 to 19 years and 4431 adults aged 20 years or older obtained in 2003-2004 as part of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), a nationally representative sample of the US population. Data from the NHANES obtained in 1999-2000 and in 2001-2002 were compared with data from 2003-2004. Estimates of the prevalence of overweight in children and adolescents and obesity in adults. Overweight among children and adolescents was defined as at or above the 95th percentile of the sex-specific body mass index (BMI) for age growth charts. Obesity among adults was defined as a BMI of 30 or higher; extreme obesity was defined as a BMI of 40 or higher. In 2003-2004, 17.1% of US children and adolescents were overweight and 32.2% of adults were obese. Tests for trend were significant for male and female children and adolescents, indicating an increase in the prevalence of overweight in female children and adolescents from 13.8% in 1999-2000 to 16.0% in 2003-2004 and an increase in the prevalence of overweight in male children and adolescents from 14.0% to 18.2%. Among men, the prevalence of obesity increased significantly between 1999-2000 (27.5%) and 2003-2004 (31.1%). Among women, no significant increase in obesity was observed between 1999-2000 (33.4%) and 2003-2004 (33.2%). The prevalence of extreme obesity (body mass index > or =40) in 2003-2004 was 2.8% in men and 6.9% in women. In 2003-2004, significant differences in obesity prevalence remained by race/ethnicity and by age. Approximately 30% of non-Hispanic white adults were obese as were 45.0% of non-Hispanic black adults and 36.8% of Mexican Americans. Among adults aged 20 to 39 years, 28.5% were obese while 36.8% of adults aged 40 to 59 years and 31.0% of those aged 60 years or older were obese in 2003-2004. The prevalence of overweight among children and adolescents and obesity among men increased significantly during the 6-year period from 1999 to 2004; among women, no overall increases in the prevalence of obesity were observed. These estimates were based on a 6-year period and suggest that the increases in body weight are continuing in men and in children and adolescents while they may be leveling off in women.
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          Relation between consumption of sugar-sweetened drinks and childhood obesity: a prospective, observational analysis.

          The rising prevalence of obesity in children has been linked in part to the consumption of sugar-sweetened drinks. Our aim was to examine this relation. We enrolled 548 ethnically diverse schoolchildren (age 11.7 years, SD 0.8) from public schools in four Massachusetts communities, and studied them prospectively for 19 months from October, 1995, to May, 1997. We examined the association between baseline and change in consumption of sugar-sweetened drinks (the independent variables), and difference in measures of obesity, with linear and logistic regression analyses adjusted for potentially confounding variables and clustering of results within schools. For each additional serving of sugar-sweetened drink consumed, both body mass index (BMI) (mean 0.24 kg/m2; 95% CI 0.10-0.39; p=0.03) and frequency of obesity (odds ratio 1.60; 95% CI 1.14-2.24; p=0.02) increased after adjustment for anthropometric, demographic, dietary, and lifestyle variables. Baseline consumption of sugar-sweetened drinks was also independently associated with change in BMI (mean 0.18 kg/m2 for each daily serving; 95% CI 0.09-0.27; p=0.02). Consumption of sugar-sweetened drinks is associated with obesity in children.

            Author and article information

            [1 ]Division of Cardiovascular Medicine, Department of Internal Medicine
            [2 ]Division of Pediatric Cardiology, Department of Pediatrics
            [3 ]Michigan Cardiovascular Research and Reporting Program, University of Michigan Health System, Ann Arbor, MI, USA
            Author notes
            Correspondence: Elizabeth A Jackson, Assistant Professor of Internal Medicine, Division of Cardiovascular Medicine, University of Michigan Health System, 24 Frank Lloyd Wright Drive, Ann Arbor, MI 48106, USA, Tel +1 734 998 7411, Fax +1 734 998 9587, Email lisjacks@
            Clin Epidemiol
            Clinical Epidemiology
            Clinical epidemiology
            Dove Medical Press
            9 August 2009
            : 1
            : 133-139
            20865095 2943172 clep-1-133
            © 2009 Jackson et al, publisher and licensee Dove Medical Press Ltd.

            This is an Open Access article which permits unrestricted noncommercial use, provided the original work is properly cited.

            Original Research

            Public health

            childhood obesity, diet, physical activity, community health


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