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Minority Fifth Graders Face Health Obstacles, Study Finds
Date:8/22/2012

By Jenifer Goodwin
HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, Aug. 22 (HealthDay News) -- Black and Latino fifth graders in the United States are more likely than white students to be obese, to get too little exercise, to witness violence and to ride without seatbelts and bike helmets, all signs of significant disparities that could put their health and safety at risk, a new study finds.

Yet, despite what researchers characterize as "striking" differences in how black and Latino children are faring compared to whites, their report gives clues about what may lie at the heart of it -- and it's largely not race or ethnicity itself.

Instead, the analysis showed that when household income, family education level and the schools the children attended were taken into account, some of those disparities disappeared.

In other words, a black or Latino child from a similar economic background, attending a similar school and whose parents had an equal level of education did about as well as a white child from the same demographic on many health measures.

"We do find substantial differences in a number of health related experiences, behaviors and outcomes with black and Latino children. Most of the time, they're not doing as well as white children on the various health indicators," said study author Dr. Mark Schuster, chief of general pediatrics at Boston Children's Hospital and a professor of pediatrics at Harvard Medical School. "What happened when we controlled for various factors such as the school, household income and family education level, we found the differences were not as substantial."

The study is published in the Aug. 23 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

The study included interviews with more than 5,000 children aged 10 and 11 and their parents in three U.S. metropolitan areas: Birmingham, Ala., Houston and Los Angeles. Researchers measured 16 aspects of health and health-related behavi
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