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Journal of Obesity
Volume 2012, Article ID 893508, 12 pages
Clinical Study

Diet, Physical Activity, and Obesity in School-Aged Indigenous Youths in Northern Australia

1Menzies School of Health Research, Charles Darwin University, P.O. Box 10639 Brisbane Adelaide Street, QLD 4000, Australia
2Queensland Institute of Medical Research, Herston, QLD 4006, Australia
3Mater Children’s Hospital, South Brisbane, QLD 4010, Australia
4University of Queensland, St Lucia, QLD 4067, Australia
5Cairns Base Hospital, Cairns, QLD 4870, Australia

Received 30 November 2011; Revised 28 March 2012; Accepted 28 March 2012

Academic Editor: Jenifer I. Fenton

Copyright © 2012 Patricia C. Valery et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Purpose. To examine the relationship between diet, physical activity, and obesity in Indigenous youths from northern Australia. Methods. In a cross-sectional study, physical activity and dietary intake (“short nutrition questionnaire”) were assessed among all youths during a face-to-face interview. For 92 high school youths, additional dietary information was assessed using a food-frequency questionnaire. Height and weight were measured and BMI was calculated. Multiple logistic regression was used to assess associations. Results. Of the 277 youths included, 52% had ≤2 servings of fruit and 84% had <4 servings of vegetables per day; 65% ate fish and 27%, take-away food (“fast food”) at least twice a week. One in four ate local traditional sea food including turtle and dugong (a local sea mammal) at least twice a week. Overweight/obese youths engaged in fewer days of physical activity in the previous week than normal weight youths ( O R = 2 . 5 2 , 95% CI 1.43–4.40), though patterns of physical activity differed by sex and age ( 𝑃 < 0 . 0 0 1 ). Overweight/obese youths were 1.89 times (95% CI 1.07–3.35) more likely to eat dugong regularly than nonobese youths. Analysis of food-frequency data showed no difference by weight assessment among high-school students. Conclusions. Low fruit and vegetable intake were identified in these Indigenous youths. Regular consumption of fried dugong and low frequency of physical activity were associated with overweight/obesity reinforcing the need to devise culturally appropriate health promotion strategies and interventions for Indigenous youths aimed at improving their diet and increasing their physical activity.