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Estimating physical activity trends among blacks in the United States through examination of four national surveys

1 School of Nursing, Rutgers University | Camden, Camden, NJ, USA
2 Statistical Consultant, Orlando, FL, USA
3 President & CEO, Gramercy Research Group, Winston-Salem, NC, USA

Physical activity is essential for overall good health and aids in the prevention and reduction of many diseases. In 2008, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) issued the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans to foster appropriate levels of physical activity at various ages of development. Despite these guidelines and the known benefit to being physically active; physical activity levels are significantly lower in Blacks, contributing to higher prevalence of poor health outcomes. Therefore, the purpose of this paper was to look at four national datasets [Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS), Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS), The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), and National Health Interview Survey (NHIS)] to identify any patterns and trends that could be used to improve physical activity behavior within this population. These national datasets were used to estimate the proportion of Black adults and youth meeting national physical activity recommendations overall—stratified by age, gender and other demographic characteristics, to help identify patterns. The proportion of Black youth reporting regular physical activity ranged from 33% to 52%; and of Black adults, 27% to 52%. Physical activity was highest among men, younger age groups, highest education and income groups, and those who were employed or married. Trends were consistent across surveys. Among Black youth, physical activity decline with increasing grade level, and improvements over the past 10 years have been minimal. The percentage of Black adults achieving physical activity guidelines has improved slightly over the last ten years, but physical activity participation is still low and continues to decline with age. Trends identified from examining these national datasets can be used to inform development of physical activity interventions aimed at promoting and maintaining regular physical activity behavior among high risk subgroups across the life span.
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Keywords African American; across the life span; secondary analysis; national datasets (BRFSS, NHANES, NHIS & YRBS); health behavior; health promotion; preventive measures

Citation: Wanda M. Williams, Michelle M. Yore, Melicia C. Whitt-Glover. Estimating physical activity trends among blacks in the United States through examination of four national surveys. AIMS Public Health , 2018, 5(2): 144-157. doi: 10.3934/publichealth.2018.2.144


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