Young Black Girls Face High Risk of Obesity

Too much TV and lack of activity increase chances of weight problems, study says

FRIDAY, Sept. 10, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- A lack of safe and affordable recreation and too much time spent watching television increase the risk of obesity for young black girls in the United States, says a study in the latest issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

Researchers at the University of North Carolina Schools of Public Health and Medicine conducted 51 interviews with black girls aged 6 to 9 and their mothers or grandmothers as part of an obesity-prevention pilot study in North Carolina.

"Traffic dangers and lack of affordable and accessible neighborhood recreation opportunities kept girls in this study inside," researcher Penny Gordon-Larsen said in a prepared statement.

Instead of going outside, the girls spent much of their time watching television. The mothers and grandmothers weren't concerned about the amount of time the girls spent watching TV, the study found. Many viewed the TV as an electronic babysitter.

Traffic, a lack of sidewalks, poor recreational facilities, unrestrained dogs and an unwillingness to let their children play outside unsupervised were the reasons cited by mothers and grandmothers as to why they felt their neighborhoods were unsafe or unsuitable for children to play outside.

"Inactive children are likely to remain inactive throughout childhood, adolescence and young adulthood, and are at high risk for obesity," Gordon-Larsen said.

More information

The American Heart Association has more about exercise and children.

SOURCE: Center for the Advancement of Health, news release, Sept. 10, 2004
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