The relationship between high school sport participation and subsequent health behaviors of college young adults
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[ACCESS RESTRICTED TO THE UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI AT AUTHOR'S REQUEST.] Researchers have gathered irrefutable evidence substantiating that the increase in childhood obesity rates is primarily due to environmental and lifestyle factors such as (a) poor nutrition and (b) excessive sedentary behavior (Bentivegna; Powell, Han, & Chaloupka, 2010; Wilfley et al., 2007). Therefore, adequate physical activity (PA) and a diet rich in nutrient dense foods can help decrease a person's risk for becoming obese. Instead of focusing public health efforts on new interventions trying to elicit health behavior changes, this study attempted to highlight an overlooked organization that can be used to instill positive health behaviors in young children -- high school sport. More specifically, the primary purpose of this study was to determine whether there was a relationship between high school (HS) sport involvement and subsequent college health behaviors. Much of the literature discusses athletes' involvement in risk taking behaviors such as drug and alcohol use; however, there is a significant gap in the literature when it comes to discussions of athletes involvement in health behaviors, and understanding the relationship between these health behaviors and an individuals' involvement in sport. For the purposes of this study, health behaviors included dietary intake practices (vegetable, fruit, and dairy consumption) and physical activity habits (aerobic activity, strength activity, and flexibility activity). The study sample included traditional, full-time degree seeking undergraduate students who were randomly selected from a Midwestern university campus. Study participants were asked to complete an online 80 question survey; comprising a study sample of 1,339 participants. The study findings showed that high school (HS) sport involvement and sum of all sports for all four years of HS were significant predictors of the likelihood of meeting the recommendations for number of dairy servings per day and for number of days involved in aerobic, strength and flexibility physical activities. Results also demonstrated that sport involvement was a significant predictor of number of days involved in aerobic, strength, and flexibility physical activities. Lastly, the number of dairy servings and days involved in aerobic, strength, and flexibility activities were all significant with regards to specific HS sports of the study participants. Significant findings suggest a strong connection between high school sport involvement and its lasting effects on young adult health behaviors.
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