Running to the Store? The Relationship between Neighborhood Environments and the Risk of Obesity

Cathleen Zick, University of Utah
Ken R. Smith, University of Utah
Jessie Fan, University of Utah
Barbara Brown, University of Utah
Ikuho Yamada, University of Utah
Lori Kowaleski-Jones, University of Utah

Previous research on neighborhood environments and the risk of obesity has typically focused on residents' access to healthy food options (energy intake) or on the features of neighborhoods that may influence residents' physical activity (energy output). In this paper, we evaluate both dimensions simultaneously with the aim of developing a more complete picture of the linkages between neighborhood characteristics and obesity risk. The analysis makes use of data from the Utah Population Database that has been linked to neighborhood census data and Dun and Bradstreet local food environment data. We find that neighborhood age, intersection density and walk-to-work measures are related to body mass index (BMI) and the risk of obesity. In addition, more neighborhood food destinations are associated with lower BMI and a lower risk of obesity. These latter effects are strongest for individuals living in poor neighborhoods.

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Presented in Session 101: Disparities in Health and Place Relationships