249192 Neighborhood social environment and child obesity among minority immigrant preschool-aged children in Los Angeles County

Monday, October 31, 2011: 10:30 AM

Tabashir Sadegh-Nobari, MPH , Department of Community Health Sciences, UCLA School of Public Health, Los Angeles, CA
May-Choo Wang, DrPH, RD , Department of Community Health Sciences, UCLA School of Public Health, Los Angeles, CA
Catherine Crespi, PhD , Department of Biostatistics, UCLA School of Public Health, Los Angeles, CA
Maria Koleilat, DrPH , PHFE-WIC Program, Irwindale, CA
M. Pia Chaparro, MS , Department of Community Health Sciences, UCLA School of Public Health, Los Angeles, CA
Shannon E. Whaley, PhD , Special Projects Division, PHFE-WIC, Irwindale, CA
Neighborhood environments are increasingly recognized as important contributors to adult obesity risk. However, less has been reported on their contributions to child obesity. Using 2000 Census data and 2003-2009 data from the WIC program in Los Angeles County, we examined the relationship between BMI z-scores in low-income children aged 2-5 years, and one aspect of the neighborhood social environment, the percent of neighborhood residents who spoke the same language as the children's families (n=384,449). A majority of both LA county and WIC mothers prefer to speak a language other than English at home (52.9% and 51.61%, respectively). Within the study population, 50.24% of children had mothers who preferred to speak Spanish; other languages spoken by WIC families included Chinese, Vietnamese and Armenian, reflecting the large Asian and Middle Eastern populations in Los Angeles. We found that children of Spanish-speaking mothers were more likely to be obese (17.1%) than children of mothers who spoke English (15.8%), Vietnamese (12.6%), Armenian (12.1%) or Chinese (7.6%). Using multi-level modeling and adjusting for child's gender, mother's ethnicity and educational level, household income and year the child was examined, we found that the percent of neighborhood residents speaking the same language as the WIC household was negatively associated with BMI z-scores ( = -0.00212, SE=0.000102, p-value <0.0001). This relationship held even after adjusting for neighborhood-level socioeconomic status. We speculate that living in neighborhoods with residents who speak the same language may be a protective factor for child obesity, especially for non-English speaking immigrant families.

Learning Areas:
Diversity and culture
Public health or related research

Learning Objectives:
1) Explain the pathways by which the neighborhood social environment can impact the development of child obesity. 2) Identify the ways in which individual-level and neighborhood-level factors interact with each other in the development of child obesity. 3) Describe the epidemiology of child obesity among WIC-participating immigrant families.

Keywords: Obesity, Environment

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I conducted the data analysis and contributed to interpretation.
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.