Contributions of Built Environment to Childhood Obesity

University of California at Los Angeles School of Public Health, Los Angeles, CA, USA.
Mount Sinai Journal of Medicine A Journal of Translational and Personalized Medicine (Impact Factor: 1.62). 01/2011; 78(1):49-57. DOI: 10.1002/msj.20235
Source: PubMed


As childhood obesity has reached epidemic proportions, it is critical to devise interventions that target the root causes of obesity and its risk factors. The two main components of childhood obesity are physical inactivity and improper nutrition, and it is becoming increasingly evident that the built environment can determine the level of exposure to these risk factors. Through a multidisciplinary literature review, we investigated the association between various built environment attributes and childhood obesity. We found that neighborhood features such as walkability/bikeability, mixed land use, accessible destinations, and transit increase resident physical activity; also that access to high-caloric foods and convenience stores increases risk of overweight and obesity, whereas the presence of neighborhood supermarkets and farmers' markets is associated with lower childhood body mass index and overweight status. It is evident that a child's built environment impacts his access to nutritious foods and physical activity. In order for children, as well as adults, to prevent onset of overweight or obesity, they need safe places to be active and local markets that offer affordable, healthy food options. Interventions that are designed to provide safe, walkable neighborhoods with access to necessary destinations will be effective in combating the epidemic of obesity.

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    • "Prevalence of childhood obesity is increasing, particularly among Hispanic children and adolescents (Ogden et al., 2012). In response, researchers and policy makers have intervened on aspects of the neighborhood built environment to improve diet and increase physical activity (Sallis and Glanz, 2009; Rahman et al., 2011). Associations with BMI have been detected for a wide range of neighborhood-level exposures including food access (Morland et al., 2002; Spence et al., 2009; Galvez et al., 2009), walkability (Cohen et al., 2007; Gordon-Larsen et al., 2006), and neighborhood socio-economic status (Gordon-Larsen et al., 2006; Everson et al., 2002; Gordon-Larsen et al., 2003), but the evidence for these associations remains inconsistent (Caspi et al., 2012; Ding and Gebel, 2012). "
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    ABSTRACT: Objective: The purpose of this cross-sectional study was to establish neighborhood built environment correlates of adiposity as measured by dual x-ray absorptiometry (DXA). The utility and methodological gains of using this measure for built environment research was further investigated by comparing model fit across parallel models on BMI z-scores and waist circumference. Methods: Pre-existing data collected from 2001-2001 on 576 overweight and obese Hispanic youth were compiled with built environment data, and 2000 Census data for analyses conducted in 2012. Walking-distance buffers were built around participants' residential locations. Variables for park space, food access, walkability, and neighborhood socio-cultural aspects were entered into a multivariate regression model predicting percent body fat. Parallel models were built for BMI z-score, and waist circumference. Results: Significant associations were found between percent body fat and supermarket access for boys, and percent body fat and increased park space and decreased neighborhood linguistic isolation for girls. Neighborhood socio-cultural characteristics accounted for more variance in obesity compared to BMI z-score or waist circumference. Conclusion: Park access, food environment, and neighborhood socio-cultural characteristics are independent contributors to body fat in children, and the contribution of these risks differs by gender. There are incremental gains to using a more accurate measure of body fat in built environment obesity studies.
    Full-text · Article · May 2015
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    • "The literature reports that young people are mostly active when in these spaces (Lachowycz et al, 2012), and urban parks were thus the focus of this research. Positive correlates of park use by young people include quality; environmental diversity; presence of ageappropriate recreation facilities; and maintenance, aesthetic quality and safety (Ries et al, 2009; McCormack et al, 2010; Rahman et al, 2011). "
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    ABSTRACT: Childhood overweight and obesity and physical inactivity are a major public health concern globally. This observational area-level case study examined and evaluated the attributes of two urban parks and 400 m peripheries influencing eating and activity behaviours in young people (aged 11–20 years). No single park variable principally or consistently attracted young people to parks or facilitated activity. Socio-economic advantage, however, was observed with higher park usership, food outlet provision (P=0.002) and food environment healthfulness (P=0.001) in more affluent areas. Inequities in obesogenic determinants are consistent with the concept of deprivation amplification. This issue needs to be more fully understood by urban designers and those involved in the planning, design and maintenance of urban parks and their peripheral environments. Furthermore, interdisciplinary cooperation and intervention between health and built environment professionals is needed to ensure that greater health equity is achieved for young people.
    Full-text · Article · Jan 2015 · URBAN DESIGN International
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    • "3. Regulation of food/physical activity advertisements targeted at children. 4. Expanding public education and environmental changes to promote healthy eating and increased physical activity, and to reduce sedentary behaviors. Emphasis should be placed on physical activity also outside of school (179), and on provision of resources focused on increasing the availability of neighborhood outdoor space (127, 180). 5. Promotion at the public policy level of legal, legislative, and industry-based activities to better regulate the food provided to young people at school and other institutions. "
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    ABSTRACT: A dramatic increase in childhood overweight/obesity has been recognized globally over the past 50 years. This observed increase may reflect genetic, as well as psychological, environmental, and socio-cultural influences. In the first part of this review, we present an updated summary of the psychosocial factors associated with this change and discuss possible ways in which they operate. Among these factors, lower socio economic status (in both industrialized and non-industrialized countries), being female, belonging to a minority group, and being exposed to adverse life events may all be associated with a greater risk of childhood overweight/obesity. These influences may be mediated via a variety of mechanisms, in particular above-average food intake of low nutritional quality and reduction in physical activity. Other important psychosocial mediators include the influence of the family and peer environment, and exposure to the media. In the second part of the review, we discuss the potential of psychosocial prevention programs to intervene in the processes involved in the rise of childhood overweight/obesity. Two points are emphasized. First, prevention programs should be multidisciplinary, combining the knowledge of experts from different professions, and taking into consideration the important role of the family environment and relevant influential social organizations, particularly school. Second, effective change is unlikely to occur without large-scale programs carried out on a public policy level.
    Full-text · Article · Jul 2014 · Frontiers in Public Health
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