For the past two to four decades, the existence of obesity has more than doubled in female children and adolescents with the greatest increase among black girls. On an average, surveys show girls are not eating more. Instead, the problem appears to be physical activity level. New research shows the activity levels of white and black girls substantially declines through adolescence.
The reasoning for the low levels of physical activity in adolescent girls was done by researchers at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. They used information collected for the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute Growth 2,000 black and white girls were followed from the ages of 9 or 12 to the ages of 17 or 19 years old. Each girl's physical activity level was measured.
The study shows activity levels were low from the start and declined dramatically over time. The decline in physical activity was greater in black girls than white girls. By the age of 16 or 17, 50 percent of black girls and 25 percent of white girls reported no habitual leisure-time activity. Researchers found reasons for the lack of activity included a higher body mass index, pregnancy and smoking. Another risk factor associated with declining activity level was a lower level of parental education.
Researchers say this study shows the continuous drop in physical activity levels of girls, both black and white, as they get older. These findings should caution the youngsters and the current epidemic of obesity.