High levels of physical inactivity and sedentary behaviors among US immigrant children and adolescents

Gopal K Singh, Stella M Yu, Mohammad Siahpush, Michael D Kogan
Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine 2008, 162 (8): 756-63

OBJECTIVE: To examine the prevalence and correlates of physical inactivity and sedentary behavior among immigrant and US-born children.

DESIGN: Cross-sectional analysis using data from the 2003 National Survey of Children's Health, a telephone survey conducted between January 29, 2003, and July 1, 2004.

SETTING: United States.

PARTICIPANTS: Multivariate logistic and least squares regression models were used to analyze immigrant differentials among 68 288 children aged 6 through 17 years. Main Exposure Ethnic-immigrant status.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Prevalence and odds of regular physical activity, inactivity, television watching, and lack of sports participation.

RESULTS: Physical inactivity and sedentary behaviors varied widely among children in various ethnic-immigrant groups. For example, 22.5% of immigrant Hispanic children were physically inactive compared with 9.5% of US-born white children with US-born parents. Approximately 67% of immigrant Hispanic children did not participate in sports compared with 30.2% of native Asian children. Overall, immigrant children were significantly more likely to be physically inactive and less likely to participate in sports than native children; they were, however, less likely to watch television 3 or more hours per day than native children, although the nativity gap narrowed with increasing acculturation levels. Compared with native white children, the adjusted odds of physical inactivity and lack of sports participation were both 2 times higher for immigrant Hispanic children with foreign-born parents, and the odds of television watching were 1.5 and 2.3 times higher for native Hispanic and black children, respectively.

CONCLUSIONS: Immigrant children in each ethnic minority group generally had higher physical inactivity and lower sports participation levels than native children. To reduce disparities, health education programs need to promote physical activity among children in immigrant families.

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