Impact of Hurricane Harvey on the Growth of Low Income, Ethnic Minority Adolescents

Katherine R. Arlinghaus, Stacey L. Gorniak, Daphne C. Hernandez, Craig A. Johnston

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: This study examined the differential impact of Hurricane Harvey on adolescent standardized Body Mass Index (zBMI), physical activity, diet, and perceived stress. Methods: Prior to Hurricane Harvey, 175 ethnic minority adolescents were recruited from an independent school district in Houston. Height and weight were directly measured. The School Physical Activity and Nutrition Questionnaire assessed diet and physical activity. Stress was assessed with the Perceived Stress Scale. High hurricane impact was classified as at least 1 affirmative response to house damage, rescue, displacement, or going without food, water, or medicine. Repeated measures such as ANCOVA models were developed to assess differences in zBMI, physical activity, diet, and stress between the hurricane impact groups. Regression models were used to assess stress as a mediator of the hurricane impact and zBMI change relationship. Results: Students who were highly impacted by the hurricane had a greater decrease in zBMI than those less impacted from pre-hurricane to 15 weeks post-hurricane (95% CI 0.02 to 0.25, p<0.05). Physical activity and diet did not differ by impact. Perceived stress at 3 weeks post-hurricane mediated the impact and zBMI change relationship (β=-0.04 95% CI-0.12 to-0.002). Conclusion: The decrease in zBMI among highly impacted students warrants further monitoring. Perceived stress, immediately following the hurricane, impacted student growth months later.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalDisaster Medicine and Public Health Preparedness
StateAccepted/In press - 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • hispanic
  • natural disaster
  • school
  • social vulnerability
  • weight

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article

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