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Optimistic Bias, Risk Factors, and Development of High Blood Pressure and Obesity among African American Adolescents in Mississippi (USA)

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Center of Excellence in Minority Health and Health Disparities, School of Public Health, Jackson State University, Jackson, MS 39213, USA
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Jackson Heart Study Community Outreach Center, School of Public Health, Jackson State University, Jackson, MS 39213, USA
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Jackson Heart Study Graduate Training and Education Center, School of Public Health, Jackson State University, Jackson, MS 39213, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2017, 14(2), 209; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph14020209
Received: 26 December 2016 / Accepted: 17 February 2017 / Published: 20 February 2017
Childhood obesity has reached epidemic proportions and is linked to hypertension among African American youth. Optimistic bias influences behavior of youth causing them to underestimate their susceptibility to negative health outcomes. This study explored adolescent behaviors and prevalence of high blood pressure and obesity in a school district. We examined the relationship between individual health risk practices and optimistic bias on health outcomes; 433 African American high school students were administered a survey and had their obesity and blood pressure measured by the school nurse. Canonical correlational analyses were used to examine relationships between health risk practices and descriptive statistics for optimistic bias and health outcomes. Engaging in moderate exercise for at least 30 min in the last 7 days and lower blood pressure was the only statistically significant relationship. Two-thirds of the students did not perceive themselves to be at risk of developing cardiovascular disease with males at greater risk than females, despite the presence of clinical risk factors for hypertension and obesity. Reducing health optimistic bias is an effective way of motivating young people to adopt more positive behaviors using educational institutions to implement intervention programs that promote positive health behavior as a way to reduce health disparities. View Full-Text
Keywords: Mississippi; optimistic bias; adolescents; risk factors; high blood pressure; obesity Mississippi; optimistic bias; adolescents; risk factors; high blood pressure; obesity
MDPI and ACS Style

White, M.S.; Addison, C.C.; Jenkins, B.W.C.; Bland, V.; Clark, A.; LaVigne, D.A. Optimistic Bias, Risk Factors, and Development of High Blood Pressure and Obesity among African American Adolescents in Mississippi (USA). Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2017, 14, 209.

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