Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Public Health


Preventive Medicine & Community Health

First Advisor

Dr. Herman Ellis


Background/Objective: Overweight and obesity has been steadily on the rise in the United States for all groups. The prevalence of obesity for adolescents has tripled since 1980. The purpose of this study is to determine an association between the frequency of physical education classes and the prevalence of overweight/obesity in adolescents in the United States.Methods: This was a cross-sectional study that used the 2001 Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) of the Center for Disease Control. The outcome variable for the study was Body Mass Index (BMI). A BMI of 25 or greater was considered overweight or obese. The main independent variable was frequency of attending physical education classes. Other independent variables were included such as demographics, nutrition, physical activity, and drug use. Univariate and multivariate statistical analysis methods were used to calculate the odds ratios for frequency of physical education classes and other risk factors for overweight and obesity. Adjusted odds ratios and their 95% confidence intervals were calculated by using a multivariate logistic regression model. SPSS 11.0 and Epinfo 6.04 were the statistical software used for the statistical analysis. Results: The study indicates that about 26% of adolescents in the United States are either overweight or obese. It was found that about 50% of adolescents do not attend PE class at all during the week. No statistically significant relationship was found between enrollment in physical education classes and overweight/obesity in adolescents, adjusting for confounders (OR=0.95 CI=0.81-1.11). There was no statistically significant relationship between the frequency of physical education classes and the overweight/obesity of adolescents, adjusting for confounders (OR=1.01 CI=0.95-1.08).Conclusion: The data shows that there is no direct relationship between the frequency of physical education classes and the prevalence of overweight/obesity, although there is a direct correlation between physical activity and the prevalence of overweight/obesity, which is found in the literature. The content of physical education classes needs to be assessed as well as providing more classes that incorporate physical activity.


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