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Role Models and Social Supports Related to Adolescent Physical Activity and Overweight/Obesity

July 29, 2015

Policy Brief

Authors: Susan H. Babey, PhD, Joelle Wolstein, PhD, MPP, MA, Allison L. Diamant, MD, MSHS

Childhood obesity is a major public health issue in the United States. Obesity is a risk factor for many chronic diseases, including heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Physical inactivity contributes to obesity among youth.

Using data from the 2011-2012 California Health Interview Survey (CHIS), authors found positive role models, social and community activities, and school support are protective social factors that promote youth health and well-being among adolescents. Adolescents who have those protective factors are more likely to have healthy body weight and to exercise for more than 60 minutes a day for five days in a week.

Latino, African-American, Asian, multi-racial, and low-income adolescents are less likely to experience these protective social factors compared to other groups, which may contribute to health disparities.

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