Correlates Between Physical Activity and Sunburn Prevalence Among a Nationally Representative Sample of US High School Students, 2015–2017

in Journal of Physical Activity and Health
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Background: Physical activity is associated with greater odds of sunburn in adults, increasing harmful sun exposure and skin cancer risk. The authors sought to investigate parallel associations between sunburn and physical activity among US high school students. Methods: The authors examined pooled cross-sectional data from the 2015 and 2017 Youth Risk Behavior Survey. A nationally representative sample of 21,894 US high school students who responded to the sunburn question was included. Results: Prevalence of sunburn was 56.6% between 2015 and 2017. Sunburn prevalence was higher in physically active students (88.3%; 95% confidence interval [CI], 86.7%–90.0%; P < .0001) and student athletes (63.0%; 95% CI, 59.4%–66.7%; P < .0001). Among male students who were vigorously physically active (≥5 d) or on ≥3 teams, the odds of sunburn were 2.33 (95% CI, 1.81–3.00; P < .0001) and 2.52 (95% CI, 1.96–3.23; P < .0001), respectively. Among female students who were vigorously physically active (≥5 d) or on ≥3 teams, the odds of sunburn were 1.65 (95% CI, 1.36–2.02; P < .0001) and 2.92 (95% CI, 2.07–4.13; P < .0001), respectively. Conclusions: Many US high school students are affected by sunburn, and the odds of sunburn are elevated during physical activity and team sports participation. Efforts are needed to improve sun safety regulations, education, and resources for youth during school and physical activity.

Wei and Farooq are with the Morsani College of Medicine, University of South Florida, Tampa, FL, USA. Castelo-soccio is with the Section of Pediatric Dermatology, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Philadelphia, PA, USA. Mhaskar is with the Department of Internal Medicine, Morsani College of Medicine, University of South Florida, Tampa, FL, USA.

Wei (gracewei@usf.edu) is corresponding author.
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