One of the largest studies ever to look at the multiple factors of diet, physical activity and sedentary behavior on obesity in adolescents, the report was published in the April 2004 issue of the American Medical Association's Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine.
In analyzing dietary factors, the researchers found that fiber intake, and not fat calories, was most closely related to an individual's weight. While the percentage of calories consumed from fat did not differ significantly between a group of normal-weight adolescents and those identified as being at-risk for obesity, or already overweight, the normal-weight adolescents consistently reported higher intake of fibrous foods such as whole grains, fruits and vegetables, as compared to the at-risk and overweight children.
"This is a potentially important finding from this study and emphasizes the need to improve diet quality for adolescents," commented the study's principal investigator, Kevin Patrick, M.D., a UCSD professor of family and preventive medicine.
The study was also one of the largest to examine differences related to gender and ethnic background. A significant finding was that more Hispanic girls (54.8 percent) than non-Hispanic white girls (42 percent) were either overweight or at risk for obesity. However, no difference was found for weight status between boys based on their ethnic heritage.
Consistent with past studies, the researchers also found that boys' overweight status was related to time spent watching television. Boys in the at-risk and overweight group reported significantly more minutes of television watching per non-school day (141.5
Contact: Sue Pondrom
University of California - San Diego