Childhood obesity is a public health concern resulting from a variety of reasons. In the United States, approximately 12.7 million children and adolescents are classified as obese. 23.8% of African American children are obese compared with 13.1% of whites between ages 6 to 11 years. In Alabama, 35.5% children are overweight and obese; it is 6th highest ranked in United States. The most common causes of childhood obesity are behavioral, genetic factors, or a combination of both.

In this study we investigated the differences in some of the behavioral factors such as sleeping time, dinner time and television watching time in racial ethnic groups. 24 white/European American (EA) and 30 black/African American (AA) elementary school children aged between 6 to 10 years participated in this study. Height and weight were measured, without shoes and wearing only light clothing. Body mass index (BMI) percentile was calculated using Centers for Disease Control and Prevention growth reference. Parents reported child’s typical weekday bedtime, dinner time and television watching time of their children.

35% of EA children slept later than 8:30 pm during school days compared to 68% of AA children. Only 4% of EA children had late dinner (after 7 pm), whereas 50% of AA children had late dinner during week days. 21% of EA children watched television for more than 1 hour in comparison to 79% of AA children every day. Our findings suggest that insufficient sleep, late dinner schedule, and longer television exposure are some of the behavioral factors that contribute to greater percentage of childhood obesity in AA than EA children.


P. Ayine: None. E.P. Parra: None. R.B. Jeganathan: None. G. Thangiah: None.

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