Examining the Role of Youth Empowerment in Preventing Adolescence Obesity in Low-income Communities

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INTRODUCTION: Youth empowerment programs have increasingly gained attention in public health as emphasis shifts on children and adolescents as decision makers in their health and well-being. Adolescence obesity is among the public health concerns that require more active engagement at individual and community level while empowering adolescents to take charge of their own health. This study examines the influence of youth empowerment on nutritional and physical activity factors associated with adolescence obesity.
METHODS: Data were gathered through a self-administered survey among adolescents (N = 410) ages 11-15 years in three U.S. States - Kansas, Ohio and South Dakota.
RESULTS: Findings show that youth empowerment significantly influences adolescents' self-efficacy, perceptions for healthy food choice, healthy eating, attitudes towards physical activity and the overall motivation for health. Gender differences exist in adolescents' self-efficacy for physical activity whereas ethnicity played a role in perceived youth empowerment and perceived barriers to healthy eating. Age was also a significant contributor in efficacy for healthy food choice and perception of healthy food availability.
CONCLUSIONS: This study suggests more focus on youth empowerment in interventions that seek to reduce obesity and improve adolescents' overall health by creating environments where they can play a more active decision-making role. With empowerment, adolescents are more likely to be motivated to adopt healthier dietary habits and engage more in physical activity. Further research would establish the impact of youth empowerment on obesity reduction and other public health problems that impact children across ages.

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Journal of Adolescence



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