Online Program

1991-2011 trends showed racial differences in overweight perception among high school students

Monday, November 4, 2013

Megan Glynn, BS, Department of Public Health and Preventative Medicine, University of Toledo, Toledo, OH
Jiunn-Jye Sheu, PhD, MSPH, MCHES, Department of Health and Recreation Professions, University of Toledo, Toledo, OH
Chung-Bang Weng, MSCS, MA, PhD, Office of Physical Education, National Taipei University, New Taipei City, Taiwan

Obesity is one of the most modifiable risk behaviors to prevent cancers and chronic diseases. Overweight at young ages frequently leads to obesity in adulthood. Research shows weight perception highly relates to weight management practice, healthy or unhealthy. To our knowledge, most reports compared adolescent's weight perception trends by either sex, race/ethnicity, or grade separately. This study took a more holistic view and identified the sex-grade-race/ethnicity specific risk groups.


Youth Risk Behavior Survey had been administered from 1991 to 2011 with nationally representative participants in the 9th to 12th grades biennially. Using YRBS data, we created the charts that compared sex-grade-race/ethnicity-specific overweight perception trends among White, Hispanic, or African American adolescents.


By examining boys' overweight perception, no consistent racial difference was found in all grades. Among male 9th and 11th graders, the proportion of overweight perception ranked from Hispanic, White to African American. For male 12th graders, White's overweight perception ranked the highest followed by Hispanic and African American. In contrast, girls had a common racial pattern across grades: the proportion of Hispanic girls who saw themselves as overweight has been more than White girls' over the past 20 years while African American girls perceived themselves overweight the lowest.


Racial/ethnic differences existed in regards to overweight perception among adolescents. While girls had a common racial pattern across grades, boys did not. Tailored messages in consideration of overweight perception by adolescent's gender, grade, and race/ethnicity are recommended. Future study over weight perception distortion is suggested.

Learning Areas:

Diversity and culture
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Describe the use of 1991-2011 Youth Risk Behavior Surveys in longitudinal analysis. Compare the racial differences of adolescent's overweight perception by grade and gender.

Keyword(s): Adolescent Health, Weight Management

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I managed and analyzed the data.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.