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The Social Vulnerability Index (SVI), a publicly available dataset, is used in emergency preparedness to identify communities in greatest need of resources. The SVI includes multiple socioeconomic, demographic, and geographic indicators that also are associated with physical fitness and physical activity. This study examined the utility of using the SVI to explain variation in youth fitness, including aerobic capacity and body mass index.
FITNESSGRAM data from 2,126 Georgia schools were matched at the census tract level with SVI themes of socioeconomic, household composition, minority status and language, and housing and transportation. Multivariate multiple regression models were used to test whether SVI factors explained fitness outcomes, controlling for grade level (ie, elementary, middle, high school) and stratified by gender.
SVI themes explained the most variation in aerobic fitness and body mass index for both boys and girls (R2 values 11.5% to 26.6%). Socioeconomic, Minority Status and Language, and Housing and Transportation themes were salient predictors of fitness outcomes.
Youth fitness in Georgia was related to socioeconomic, demographic, and geographic themes. The SVI may be a useful needs assessment tool for health officials and researchers examining multilevel influences on health behaviors or identifying communities for prevention efforts.
Gay (firstname.lastname@example.org) and White are with the Dept of Health Promotion and Behavior; Robb and Benson are with the Dept of Epidemiology and Biostatistics; University of Georgia, Athens, GA.