Physical Activity and Eating Habits in Public High Schools from Different Regions in Brazil: the Saude na Boa Project

Abstract: This journal article analyzes physical activity and dietary patterns of adolescents and young adults attending evening classes in high schools at two socioeconomic and culturally contrasting Cities in Brazil: Recife (in northern Brazil) and Florianopolis (in southern Brazil). This is a cross-sectional analysis (baseline data) of a school-based randomized trial (the Saude na Boa project), including 2,147 students (15-24 years of age; 55.7% females) from 10 schools in each city, pair-matched by size and location. Data were collected by questionnaire. Males were more active than females (p<0.001) in all three physical activity measures in the questionnaire: days/wk of 60+min of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) – males 3.8 d/wk (s=2.3), females 3.2 d/wk (s=2.4); walk/bike to school – males 4.5 d/wk (s=2.4), females 4.1 d/wk (s=2.4); and, strength exercises – males 2.3 d/wk (s=2.5), females 0.8 d/wk (s=1.7). The prevalence of physical inactivity (zero d/wk of 60+ min MVPA) was significantly higher in Recife (p<0.001). Consumption of fruits was significantly higher in Recife than in Florianopolis (p<0.001), but no differences were observed for vegetable (p=0.28) and soda consumption (p=0.09). In general, one out of five students (21.7%) consumed fruits and vegetables <5 d/wk. Students attending evening classes (public high schools) in Recife tend to be older but are less likely be employed than their counterparts in Florianopolis. Participation in physical education classes was much more prevalent in Florianopolis (87.6% x 19.4% in Recife), especially for females. The prevalence of less than optimal eating habits and insufficient levels of physical activity justify the efforts to promote healthier behaviors in this transitional phase in life.

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