183113 Influences of Physical and Social Neighborhood Environments on Child Physical Activity and Obesity

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Luisa Franzini, PhD , Management, policy and community health, University of Texas School of Public Health, Houston, TX
Marc N. Elliott, PhD , RAND, Santa Monica, CA
Paula Cuccaro, PhD , Center for Health Promotion and Prevention Research, University of Texas Health Science Center-Houston, Houston, TX
Mark A. Schuster, MD, PhD , Children's Hospital Boston/Harvard Medical School and RAND, Santa Monica, CA
M. Janice Gilliland, PhD , Director of the Center for the Advancement of Youth Health, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, AL
Frank Franklin, MD MPH PhD , Maternal and Child Health, University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Public Health, Birmingham, AL
Susan Tortolero, PhD , Center for Health Promotion and Prevention Research, University of Texas Health Science Center-Houston, Houston, TX
We examined the association between physical and social neighborhood environments and fifth-graders' physical activity and obesity using multiple neighborhood measures. We collected data on 650 fifth-graders and their primary caregiver during Phase I of Healthy Passages, a multi-site, community-based, cross-sectional study of health risk behaviors and health outcomes in children. We measured neighborhood physical characteristics using both independent systematic neighborhood observations and survey data from primary caregivers on social processes. Physical characteristics included traffic conditions, physical disorder, residential density, and land-use. Social processes included collective efficacy, collective socialization of children, social exchange, social contact, and perceived safety. Children were considered overweight if their BMI was between the 85th and 94th percentiles and obese if their BMI was at or above the 95th percentile. Measures for the child's physical activity level included days/week of vigorous exercise, days/week of moderate exercise, days/week of physical education at school, number of teams, participation in other organized physical activity, preferred free-time activities, and walking/biking to school. We modeled child physical activity and obesity status using structural equation models with latent variables for the physical and social environments. After controlling for child sociodemographic factors, a favorable social environment was positively associated with several measures of physical activity, and physical activity was negatively associated with child obesity. Physical environment was not significantly associated with physical activity. These findings suggest that efforts to develop neighborhood-level child obesity prevention policies and interventions would benefit from considering neighborhood social factors rather than focusing solely on improvements in the physical environment.

Learning Objectives:
1. Discuss neighborhood characteristics that are associated with physical activity and obesity in youth. 2. Describe the importance of social neighborhood environments in developing policies and interventions to reduce child obesity.

Keywords: Physical Activity, Obesity

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I analyzed the data and interpreted results.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.