Factors associated with physician discussion of health behaviors with adolescents

Won S. Choi, Edward F. Ellerbeck, Harsohena Kaur, Niaman Nazir, Jasjit S. Ahluwalia

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Behaviors developed in adolescence influence health later in life. The purpose of this study was to investigate the frequency of health care provider's discussion of health behaviors with overweight and non-overweight adolescents and identify demographic and health behaviors related to exercise, hours of television viewing, and weight issues associated with these discussions. A Cross sectional survey of urban adolescents was conducted. Trained interviewers administered surveys over a three month period in 2001 at an urban academic pediatric and adolescent clinic. The 252 adolescents surveyed had a mean age of 15 with 49% categorized as being at risk for overweight/overweight and 51% as normal weight using the CDC percentiles for BMI. While 16% of the adolescents reported that their physician or nurse discussed the amount of television they watched, rates of discussion related to exercise (58%), and weight (54%) were much higher. In multivariate analyses, health care provider discussions with adolescents regarding exercise were more common for overweight (O.R.=2.42, 95% C.I. [1.28-4.57]) and at risk for overweight (O.R.=1.98, 95% C.I. [1.03-3.81]) adolescents, whereas physician discussion of television viewing was not associated with weight. Discussions of weight were more common for female (O.R.=2.18, 95% C.I. [1.21-3.95]), African-American (O.R.=2.53, 95% C.I. [1.40-4.57]), and overweight (O.R.=3.92, 95% C.I. [1.97-7.81]) adolescents. Even after adjusting for weight, race and gender strongly influenced the frequency of discussions about weight in physician offices. Although health care providers frequently address weight and exercise with adolescents, more discussions related to sedentary behaviors such as television viewing may be warranted to address adolescent obesity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)969-975
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Youth and Adolescence
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2006


  • Adolescents
  • Health behaviors
  • Physician discussion

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