Email updates

Keep up to date with the latest news and content from BMC Public Health and BioMed Central.

Open Access Research article

Experimenting with cigarettes and physical activity among Mexican origin youth: a cross sectional analysis of the interdependent associations among sensation seeking, acculturation, and gender

Anna V Wilkinson1*, Nnenna L Okeke1, Andrew E Springer1, Melissa H Stigler1, Kelley P Gabriel1, Melissa L Bondy2, Alexander V Prokhorov3 and Margaret R Spitz2

Author Affiliations

1 University of Texas School of Public Health, Austin Regional Campus, 1616 Guadalupe, Suite 6.300, Austin, TX, 78701, USA

2 Baylor College of Medicine, 1 Baylor Plaza, Houston, TX, 77030, USA

3 University of Texas M.D. Anderson Center, Division of Cancer Prevention & Population Sciences, 1155 Pressler St. - CPB6.3201, Houston, TX, 77030, USA

For all author emails, please log on.

BMC Public Health 2012, 12:332  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-12-332

Published: 4 May 2012

Abstract

Background

Sensation seeking tendencies tend to manifest during adolescence and are associated with both health-compromising behaviors and health-enhancing behaviors. The purpose of this study is to evaluate the relationship between sensation seeking and physical activity, a health-enhancing behavior, and between sensation seeking and experimenting with cigarettes, a health compromising-behavior, among a cohort of Mexican origin adolescents residing in the United States with different levels of acculturation.

Methods

In 2009, 1,154 Mexican origin youth (50.5% girls, mean age 14.3 years (SD = 1.04)) provided data on smoking behavior, physical activity, linguistic acculturation, and sensation seeking. We conducted Pearson’s χ2 tests to examine the associations between categorical demographic characteristics (i.e. gender, age, country of birth and parental educational attainment) and both cigarette experimentation and physical activity and Student’s t-tests to examine mean differences on the continuous variables (i.e. sensation seeking subscale) by the behaviors. We examined mean differences in the demographic characteristics, acculturation, and both behaviors for each of the sensation seeking subscales using analysis of variance (ANOVA). To examine relationships between the sensation seeking subscales, gender, and both behaviors, at different levels of acculturation we completed unconditional logistic regression analyses stratified by level of acculturation.

Results

Overall, 23.3% had experimented with cigarettes and 29.0% reported being physically active for at least 60 minutes/day on at least 5 days/week. Experimenting with cigarettes and being physically active were more prevalent among boys than girls. Among girls, higher levels of sensation seeking tendencies were associated with higher levels of acculturation and experimentation with cigarettes, but not with physical activity. Among boys, higher levels of sensation seeking tendencies were associated with higher levels of acculturation, experimenting with cigarettes and being physically active.

Conclusions

Our results suggest that interventions designed to prevent smoking among Mexican origin youth may need to address social aspects associated with acculturation, paying close attention to gendered manifestations of sensation seeking.

Keywords:
Smoking behavior; Physical activity; Acculturation; Sensation seeking; Gender; Mexican origin youth