Health status in African American children and adolescents attending a community fine arts program
MetadataShow full item record
BACKGROUND: Over recent decades, the nationwide prevalence of chronic disease among children and adolescents has been on the rise. Conditions such as obesity pose a significant risk to the physical and mental health of individuals in youth as well as in adulthood, as these health risks track into later years and increase in severity. Low-income and racial/ethnic minorities are disproportionately affected by chronic conditions. In particular, African American (AA) youth are reported to have a higher prevalence of fair/poor health than their Caucasian peers. Compounding the effects of this racial disparity in health is the disparity AA youth face in SES, as many live in poverty. The individual and environmental influences associated with factors of race and SES contribute to negative health behaviors leading to poor health status among AA youth living in disadvantaged communities. Health disparities have been shown to manifest in the earliest years of life, therefore the monitoring of at-risk populations of children and adolescents is essential to identifying, addressing, and reducing poor health outcomes throughout the course of life. OBJECTIVE: To determine the health status of AA children and adolescents living in a low-income community using multiple health measures, examine the relationships between these health measures in AA youth, as well as to identify barriers to participation in a family-oriented health promotion program. METHODS: A total of 111 AA boys and girls attending a community fine arts program located in a low-income suburb of Chicago participated in the study. Data from anthropometric measurements, the 20-m Shuttle Run Test, and curl-ups were collected and analyzed to assess the health measures of Body Mass Index (BMI) and BMI Percentile, Cardiorespiratory Fitness (CRF), and Muscular Fitness (MF), respectively. Data pertaining to barriers encountered in attending a health promotion program were collected from 13 families who were active members of the community fine arts program and had participated in health promotion program. The cross-sectional survey consisted of questions pertaining to the different components of the intervention program as well as to family demographic information. RESULTS: The prevalence of overweight and obesity in the entire study population was 34.2%, with 31.6% of boys and 34.8% of girls being classified as overweight/obese. 16.2% of youth categorized specifically as obese, with 26.3% of boys and 15.2% of girls being obese. 43.9% of study participants aged 10-18 years needed improvement in CRF, all of whom were girls. All but one boy reached the healthy fitness zone for curl-ups. Significant positive correlations were found between BMI and age as well as curl-ups and age, and significant negative correlation was found between CRF and age as well as BMI and CRF for AA youth. Of reported barriers, scheduling conflicts and time constraints were consistently most listed by survey respondents. CONCLUSION: Within the at-risk population of AA youth studied, despite high levels of MF, a large proportion presented with problematic health as indicated by the high levels of poor CRF and weight status observed, suggesting a need for intervention in order to address these health issues. An intervention program targeting youth within this and similar communities should take into consideration attenuating excessive program-associated expenses as well as offering more scheduling options and information on efficient food preparation and exercise.