Ethnicity and acculturation: do they predict weight status in a longitudinal study among Asian, Hispanic, and non-Hispanic White early adolescent females?
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BACKGROUND: The prevalence of overweight and obesity among adolescents has increased over the past decade. Prevalence rates are disparate among certain racial and ethnic groups. This study sought to longitudinally examine the relationship between overweight status (=85th percentile according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention growth charts) and ethnic group, as well as acculturation (generation and language spoken in the home) in a sample of adolescent females.METHODS: Asian (n=160), Hispanic (n=217), and non-Hispanic White (n=304) early adolescent girls participating in the multistate calcium intervention study with complete information on weight, ethnicity, and acculturation were included. Multiple methods of assessing longitudinal relationships (binary logistic regression model, linear regression model, Cox proportional-hazards regression analysis, and Kaplan-Meier survival analysis) were used to examine the relationship.RESULTS: The total proportion of girls overweight at baseline was 36%. When examining by ethnic group, the proportion varied with Hispanic girls having the highest percentage (46%) in comparison to their Asian (23%) and Non-Hispanic White (35%) counterparts. Although the total proportion of overweight was 36% at 18 months, the variation across the ethnic groups remained with the proportion of Hispanic girls becoming overweight (55%) being greater than their Asian (18%) and non-Hispanic White (34%) counterparts. However, regardless of the statistical approach used, there were no significant associations between overweight status and acculturation over time.CONCLUSION: These unexpected results warrant further exploration into factors associated with overweight, especially among Hispanic girls, and further investigation of acculturation's role is warranted. Identifying these risk factors will be important for developing targeted obesity prevention initiatives.
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