Prior research has shown differences in physiologic and behavioral measurements of adolescent boys and girls. The PHS team sought to determine if similar gender-specific differences exist between PHS participants before and after the program.
Health behavior data from 19,959 sixth graders (49.2% girls) and physiologic data from 2,922 sixth graders (52.8% girls) were collected between 2004-2017. Prior to the PHS program, girls had lower HDL cholesterol and higher resting and recovery heart rates, but reported greater consumption of fruits and vegetables and less sugary beverages and fried meats than boys. Boys reported more vigorous exercise but greater hours of television and video game screen time than girls. After the PHS program, girls showed greater improvement in resting heart rate, fruit consumption and video game time than boys.
With the exception of physical activity and mobile device screen time, girls had generally healthier behaviors; however, they also had poorer physiological measures before the PHS program. The lower rates of physical activity and worse resting and recovery heart rates in girls highlight a potential area of focus for the PHS intervention.