Differential trends in weight-related health behaviors among American young adults by gender, race/ethnicity, and socioeconomic status: 1984-2006

Am J Public Health. 2009 Oct;99(10):1893-901. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2008.141317. Epub 2009 Aug 20.

Abstract

Objectives: We investigated temporal patterns from 1984 to 2006 in 6 weight-related health behaviors by using longitudinal data for multiple cohorts of young adults (aged 19-26 years) from the nationally representative Monitoring the Future Study.

Methods: We used growth curve models to examine historical trends in 6 health behaviors: frequency of eating breakfast, eating green vegetables, eating fruit, exercising, watching television, and sleeping 7 hours each night. Variations across gender, race/ethnicity, and socioeconomic status were investigated.

Results: Frequency of exercising was consistently lower among young adult women than young adult men over this 23-year period. Compared with White women, Hispanic women, and women from other race/ethnic groups, Black women showed declines in the frequency of exercise since 1984. In general, young adult women showed a marked increase in the frequency of eating breakfast over this period, although Black women did not show any net gains.

Conclusions: Social disparities in body weight may increase because Black women, Hispanic women, and men with lower socioeconomic status show declining trends in positive weight-related health behaviors compared with White young adults with higher socioeconomic status.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • African Americans / statistics & numerical data
  • Body Mass Index*
  • Body Weight*
  • Continental Population Groups*
  • Female
  • Health Behavior* / ethnology
  • Health Status Disparities*
  • Hispanic Americans / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Models, Statistical
  • Nutritional Status*
  • Sex Factors
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • United States
  • Young Adult