Ethnic, Gender, and BMI Differences in Athletic Identity in Children and Adolescents

in Journal of Physical Activity and Health
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Little is known about differences in athletic self-concept that are related to ethnicity, gender, and overweight status, which may influence physical activity behavior.


Children (N = 936) and adolescents (N = 1071) completed the Athletic Identity Questionnaire, measuring athletic appearance, competence, importance of activity, and encouragement from parents, teachers, and friends. Multivariate ANOVA assessed group differences and interactions on the 6 subscales.


Interaction effects were found in children (Ethnic × Gender; Ethnic × BMI), and ethnic, gender, and BMI (body mass index) main effects in adolescents. In children, Hispanic girls had lower appearance and competence ratings. Within weight categories, normal-weight Hispanic children had lower appearance and importance ratings compared with whites, and obese black children had lower importance ratings than obese whites and Hispanics. In adolescents, there were lower appearance and competence ratings among Hispanics and obese students, lower importance ratings among girls and Hispanics, and less parental encouragement in Hispanics. No gender, ethnic, or BMI differences on encouragement from teachers were found in either children or adolescents.


More negative athletic self-perceptions and less parental encouragement were seen in minorities. Consideration of these factors will be important in interventions to promote physical activity.

Anderson ( is with the Dept of Pediatrics, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX. Mâsse is with the Health Promotion Research Branch of The University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Alberta, Canada. Zhang and Chang are with the Dept of Epidemiology, University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX. Coleman is with the Dept of Research & Evaluation, Southern California Permanente Medical Group, Pasadena, CA.