SOCIO-CULTURAL DETERMINANTS OF PHYSICAL ACTIVITY AMONG AFRICAN AMERICAN AND WHITE FEMALE ADOLESCENTS
Scott, Wakina L.
Koblinsky, Sally A.
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Low physical activity is a problem for girls, and particularly African American female adolescents. Low physical activity has been associated with increased risks of cardiovascular disease, hypertension, diabetes, cigarette smoking, premature mortality, and overweight and obesity. Families and communities play an important role in influencing adolescent health; however, few studies have examined how these factors influence adolescent physical activity outcomes. Adopting an ecological theoretical framework, the purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between family factors (maternal control, maternal support, mother-child communication, and family cohesion), a community factor (religiosity, defined as attendance at religious services and religious youth activities) and physical activity among African American and White female adolescents. Wave I data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health was analyzed. The sample includes 736 African American and 1,692 White female adolescents in grades seven through 12. Descriptive statistics were computed for all family and community measures. Logit models were used to evaluate family and community influences on female adolescents achieving five or more bouts of moderate to vigorous physical activity per week (MVPA); and whether the relationship between maternal control, maternal support, mother-child communication, family cohesion, religiosity, and MVPA was moderated by race. Maternal control was a significant predictor of MVPA for the total sample and the White female sample, with increased levels of maternal control associated with increased adolescent physical activity. Mother-child communication and religiosity were significantly positively associated with MVPA for African American females only. Maternal support and family cohesion were not found to be significant predictors of adolescent girls' physical activity in any of the models. Race significantly influenced the strength of the relationship between mother-child communication and adolescent MVPA, and between religiosity and adolescent MVPA, with findings revealing a stronger relationship for African American female adolescents than for White female adolescents. Strategies to engage female adolescents in physical activity, particularly African American female adolescents, should focus on increasing mother-child communication and girls' involvement with religious institutions.