Differences in health-related behaviors between middle school, high school, and college students in Jiangsu province, China

Liu, Weina; He, Mike Zhongyu; Wang, Yunle; Wang, Y.; Zhou, Yonglin; Wu, Ming; Tang, Zhen; Dai, Yue; Yuan, Baojun; Zhen, Shiqi; Cheskin, Lawrence J.

Increasing rates of obesity among Chinese adolescents has become a major public health concern in recent years. Studies have shown that factors such as food choices, physical activity, and screen time play important roles in fostering obesity. We examined a number of biological and social determinants that influence these factors. To determine whether dietary behavior, physical activity, and screen time varied among students in different stages of their education.

Students in 13 cities across Jiangsu Province completed an anonymous survey assessing demographics and various health-related behaviors in a controlled setting. The survey population ranged from middle school students to undergraduates. 55,361 surveys were returned, and 46,611 (84.2%) were usable for the analysis. Multiple linear regression models were used to investigate the relationship between four behavioral factors (dietary behavior, screen time, physical activity, and moderate exercise) and seven predictors (gender, age, BMI, mother's education, nearsightedness, allowance, and geographic region).

Baseline characteristics of the survey population analyzed by education level (middle school, high school, college and beyond) showed moderate differences in demographics among the three groups. Physical activity, moderate exercise, and dietary behavior decreased with educational level, while screen time increased. All predictors in the four considered regression models were statistically significant.

This unique, large-scale survey of Chinese students in a region of contrasting economic development revealed numerous relationships between health-related diet and physical-activity, region, and education level. These findings can inform the development of measures to counteract the rise of obesity in China.

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Also Published In

Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition

More About This Work

Academic Units
Environmental Health Sciences
Published Here
June 23, 2023