Knowledge, beliefs, and practices among adolescent females regarding lifestyle risk factors for osteoporosis
Anderson, Kristal D.
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While adult women are aware of the relationship between lifestyle practices and the prevention of osteoporosis, this awareness and subsequent practice is not known in the adolescent population. The primary purpose of this study was to evaluate knowledge, beliefs, and practices regarding osteoporosis lifestyle risk factors among the adolescent female population. A second purpose was to determine whether knowledge, beliefs, and practices would vary according to socio-economic status (SES). A third purpose was to assess whether lifestyle practices would cluster together. Two hundred twenty seven females aged 12- 16 of high and low SES were randomly selected to participate in this study. Knowledge and beliefs toward osteoporosis lifestyle risk factors- physical activity, cigarette smoking, and nutrition were evaluated using a reliable questionnaire developed for this study. To assess physical activity, smoking, and nutrition, other reliable and valid questionnaires were used. Results indicated that adolescent females believed that an inactive lifestyle and inadequate calcium intake would predispose them to osteoporosis, although they were unaware that cigarette smoking is a risk factor. The majority of participants were also unable to identify specific activities and foods best for building strong bones. In terms of practices, 61% of the participants had daily calcium intakes less than the recommended adequate intake, and physical activity scores that reflected low to moderate activity levels. Twenty-five percent of the young women were current smokers. These findings suggest that although adolescent females in this study held positive beliefs towards lifestyle practices that lead to osteoporosis, they lacked the specific knowledge necessary to make informed lifestyle decisions. In addition, the findings showed that physical activity knowledge and beliefs, as well as smoking knowledge and practice varied according to SES. Furthermore, physical inactivity and cigarette smoking were the only factors found to cluster together. In conclusion, an immediate need exists to promote osteo-protective lifestyle practices among adolescent females. Future research should investigate whether other factors play a role in the relationship between knowledge and practice among adolescent females. Information from this study could also be used to assist in developing and evaluating osteoporosis intervention programs for the adolescent female population.