Neighborhood Socioeconomic Status and Non School Physical Activity and Body Mass Index in Adolescent Girls

in Journal of Physical Activity and Health
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Socioeconomic status (SES) has well known associations with a variety of health conditions and behaviors in adults but is unknown in adolescents.


Multilevel analysis was conducted to examine the associations between individual and neighborhood-level measures of SES and physical activity and body mass index in a sample of 1554 6th grade girls selected at random from 36 middle schools across 6 geographic regions in the United States that participated in the Trial of Activity for Adolescent Girls (TAAG). Data on parental education and employment, and receipt of subsidized school lunch were collected by questionnaire. Neighborhood-level SES was measured by the Townsend Index. Nonschool physical activity levels were measured by accelerometer and type, location and context was measured using a 3 day physical activity recall (3DPAR).


After controlling for race, lower parental education and higher levels of social deprivation were associated with higher BMI. In a model with both variables, effects were attenuated and only race remained statistically significant. None of the indices of SES were related to accelerometer measured physical activity. Bivariate associations with self-reported Moderate-Vigorous Physical Activity (MVPA) location and type (3DPAR) varied by SES.


Among adolescent girls in the TAAG Study, the prevalence of overweight is high and inversely related to individual and neighborhood SES.

Voorhees is with the Dept of Public and Community Health, University of Maryland, College Park, MD, and the University of Maryland School of Public Health. Catellier is with the Dept of Biostatistics, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC. Ashwood and Cohen are with the Dept. of Health Sciences, Rand Corporation, Santa Monica, CA. Rung is with the School of Public Health, Epidemiology Program, Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center, New Orleans, LA. Lytle is with the Dept of Epidemiology, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN. Conway is with the Dept of Public Health, San Diego State University, San Diego, CA. Dowda is with the Dept of Exercise Science, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC.