Purpose: African American adolescents, particularly girls, are less active than their non-Hispanic white peers. However, little is known about how the physical activity levels and behaviors of ethnic sub-populations of non-Hispanic black adolescents, such as the Somali population, compare to their peers. A greater understanding of Somali adolescents’ physical activity is important to inform culturally tailored clinical care and interventions. The purpose of this study was to compare moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA), as well as the prevalence and frequency of participating in different types of physical activities among Somali, other non-Hispanic black, and non-Hispanic white adolescents.
Methods: The current study includes a subsample of 1,268 participants (mean age 14.6, SD = 2.1; 51% female) who participated in EAT 2010 (Eating and Activity in Teens), representing Somali (9%), other non-Hispanic black (not Somali or Ethiopian) (51%), and non-Hispanic white (40%) adolescents. Participants were middle and high school students at Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN, public schools and completed survey assessments of overall leisure-time MVPA and participation in 26 different types of physical activities. Linear and logistic regressions were used to examine disparities in MVPA and participation in each type of physical activity among the three race groups. All analyses were stratified by gender, and controlled for age, socioeconomic status, nativity, and BMI.
Results: There were no significant differences in MVPA (mean = 7.4 h/w) among Somali, black, and white adolescent boys. White girls reported significantly higher MVPA levels (6.2 h/w) than black (5.1 h/w, p < 0.001) or Somali (3.9 h/w, p = .02) girls. Of the 26 physical activities, there were significant differences between Somalis and the other races groups for 9 activities among the boys, and 7 activities among the girls. For example, Somali boys participated in more dance compared to white boys, and less walking for transportation compared to black and white boys. Somali girls participated in more soccer compared to black girls, and less running compared to white girls. Among the adolescents participating in each physical activity, there were few significant differences in the number of hours of participation for the three race groups.
Conclusions: There are similarities and differences of MVPA and physical activity participation among Somali, other non-Hispanic black and white adolescents. Awareness of both is important for informing clinicians’ and researchers’ culturally tailored care and interventions. Also, among the adolescents participating each activity, there is little difference in their participation rates–suggesting access is imperative.
Sources of Support: Grant No. R01HL084064 from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (PI: Dianne Neumark-Sztainer) Grant No. T32HP22239 from the National Research Service Award (NRSA) in Primary Medical Care (PI: Iris Borowsky).
Thul C, Eisenberg ME, Larson N, & Neumark-Sztainer D. (2014). Physical activity comparisons among adolescents of Somali, other non-Hispanic Black and White race. Journal of Adolescent Health, 54, S66-S67. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jadohealth.2013.10.145