The Home Physical Activity Environment and Adolescent BMI, Physical Activity, and TV Viewing: Disparities Across a Diverse Sample

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ObjectiveCharacteristics of the home and family have been associated with adolescents’ BMI and physical and sedentary activity, but few studies have examined how these characteristics vary across ethnic/ethnic groups. This study explores whether recommendations for activity promotion are equally relevant to different adolescent populations.DesignParticipants included 2,374 adolescents and their parent(s), recruited through 20 public schools in Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN, in 2009–2010. Ethnic/racial groups included African American, Asian (primarily Hmong), East African, Hispanic, Native American, White, and mixed/other race. Linear regression analysis modeled adolescents’ BMI z-scores and physical and sedentary activity based on six measures of the family/home activity environment, adjusted for covariates. Interactions of ethnicity/race and family/home environment were tested.ResultsAll six family/home environment measures varied significantly across ethnicity/race. Family/home variables were significantly associated with adolescent physical activity and TV viewing in the expected directions, and these relationships were consistent across ethnic/racial groups in two thirds of the models. However, in one third of the cases, these associations were modified by ethnicity/race. For example, home access to a greater number of media devices was significantly associated with more TV viewing (β = .40, p = .015) only among White youth.ConclusionHealth promotion recommendations for adolescent physical activity are largely relevant across ethnic/racial groups. However, given differences found in the family/home environments of adolescents, cultural sensitivity is recommended in discussing these issues, and tailored recommendations may be appropriate for select groups or behaviors. Further mixed methods research is warranted to help identify key messages for specific groups.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)326-336
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of racial and ethnic health disparities
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2014


  • Adolescents
  • Family
  • Physical activity
  • Sedentary activity
  • Weight


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