Submitted to: Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise
Publication Type: Abstract only
Publication Acceptance Date: 12/1/2008
Publication Date: 5/1/2009
Citation: Anderson, C.B., Masse, L.C., Zhang, H., Coleman, K.J., Chang, S. 2009. Racial/ethnic, gender, and BMI differences in athletic identity in children and adolescents [abstract]. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise. 41(5):S69. Interpretive Summary:
Technical Abstract: The purpose of this study was to examine differences in athletic self-concept, a hypothesized mediator of physical activity and sedentary behavior, by gender, racial/ethnic, and overweight status in elementary and middle school children. Children (Grades 4-5, n=936) and adolescents (Grades 7-8, n=1071) completed the Athletic Identity Questionnaire, measuring athletic appearance, competence, importance of physical activity and sports, and encouragement for activity from parents, teachers, and friends. Multivariate ANOVA tested main effects and interactions between gender, ethnic group, and overweight status (BMI group), calculated from measured height and weight. Gender, racial/ethnic, and BMI differences were found across age groups on the appearance, competence, and importance subscales. In elementary children, lower appearance, importance, and competence ratings were found among non-Hispanic black boys (p<0.005) and lower appearance and importance ratings among obese black children (p<,0.003). In middle school children, there were lower appearance and competence ratings among Hispanic (p<,0.0001) and obese children (p<0.001, p=0.04), lower ratings of importance among girls (p<0.004) and Hispanics (p<.007), and less encouragement from parents among Hispanic children (p<0.002). Importantly, no gender racial/ethnic, or BMI differences were found on encouragement for activity from teachers in younger or older children. Hispanic and non-Hispanic black children are comparatively more at risk for inactivity due to athletic self-perceptions and lack of parental encouragement than non-Hispanic whites. In spite of more negative self-perceptions, overweight and obese children did not perceive less encouragement for activity from their social context than normal weight children. Consideration of these factors will be important in interventions to promote physical activity.