JOURNAL ARTICLE

Neighborhood environments and obesity among Afro-Caribbean, African American, and Non-Hispanic white adults in the United States: results from the National Survey of American Life

Samaah M Sullivan, Meghan M Brashear, Stephanie T Broyles, Ariane L Rung
Preventive Medicine 2014, 61: 1-5
24378205

OBJECTIVE: To examine possible associations between perceived neighborhood environments and obesity among a U.S. nationally representative sample of Afro-Caribbean, African American, and Non-Hispanic white adults.

METHODS: Data was used from the 2001-2003 National Survey of American Life (NSAL). All measures including neighborhood characteristics, height, and weight were self-reported. Multivariate logistic regression was used to compute odds ratios (ORs) of obesity (body mass index (BMI) ≥ 30 kg/m(2)) based on perceived neighborhood physical and social characteristics.

RESULTS: The odds of obesity were significantly lower for adults who reported involvement in clubs, associations, or help groups (odds ratio (OR): 0.62; 95% confidence interval (CI): 0.44, 0.85) and perceived that they had a park, playground, or open space in their neighborhood (odds ratio (OR): 0.68; 95% confidence interval (CI): 0.47, 0.98). These associations remained significant after adjusting for leisure-time physical activity. Race/ethnicity appeared to modify the association between involvement in clubs, associations, or help groups and obesity.

CONCLUSIONS: Providing parks, playgrounds, or open space or increasing the perception of those amenities may assist in the prevention of obesity, especially in ethnically diverse neighborhoods in the United States. More research is needed to investigate how perceptions of the neighborhood environment influence obesity and whether perceptions of the neighborhood environment differ between individuals within the same neighborhoods.

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