Prevalence and determinants of physical activity and lifestyle in relation to obesity among schoolchildren in Israel

Dorit Nitzan Kaluski, Getachew Demem Mazengia, Tal Shimony, Rebecca Goldsmith, Elliot M Berry
Public Health Nutrition 2009, 12 (6): 774-82

OBJECTIVE: To describe the relationships between physical activity, lifestyle determinants and obesity in adolescent Israeli schoolchildren.Design and settingCross-sectional survey.

SUBJECTS: The MABAT Youth Survey was a nationally representative, school-based study of youth in grades 7 to 12 (ages 11-19 years).

METHODS: Self-administered questionnaires assessed health behaviours and anthropometric indices were measured. Logistic regression analysis was used to examine the associations between obesity, physical activity, socio-economic status and other lifestyle habits. One-way ANOVA was used to determine mean physical activity levels (MET values) by BMI categories.

RESULTS: The prevalence of overweight was 13-15 % and of obesity 4-9 % depending on gender and ethnicity, and was higher among the non-Jewish sectors. Thirty-six per cent and 57 % of Jewish girls and boys, and 40 % and 58 % of non-Jewish girls and boys, respectively, were optimally active. Boys from low socio-economic schools and those who slept for less than 6 h at night were less active. Girls from middle school were found to be 53 % more optimally physically active among Jews, and 89 % more among non-Jews, compared with girls from high school (P = 0.001); girls with less educated parents were also less physically active. No clear relationship was found between the level of obesity and physical activity.

CONCLUSIONS: Physical inactivity was strongly related to gender, age, social status, sleeping habits, hookah smoking, and parental educational status. Education and intervention programmes should focus on these risk factors.

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