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Health Place. 2013 Jan;19:69-73. doi: 10.1016/j.healthplace.2012.10.005. Epub 2012 Nov 9.

Perceptions of neighborhood environments and childhood obesity: evidence of harmful gender inequities among Portuguese children.

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  • 1Department of Geography, University of Coimbra, Largo da Porta Férrea, Coimbra 3004-530, Portugal.


This study investigates the links between parents' perceptions of their social and built residential environment and obesity among Portuguese school boys and girls. A total of 1885 children, 952 girls and 933 boys, aged 3.0-10.0 years, were observed. The children's weight and height were measured, and their parents filled out the "Environmental Module" questionnaire of the International Physical Activity Prevalence Study. Age and sex-speci`fic BMI cut-off points were used to define being overweight/obese. Environmental characteristics were combined into 2 composite neighborhood indices that were used as predictors in logistic regression models. Girls living in neighborhoods perceived as having poorly built environmental conditions had increased odds of being obese (OR=1.47; p<0.005), and girls living in neighborhoods perceived as being unsafe and dangerous had also increased odds of being obese (OR=1.339; p<0.005). These relationships were not evident for boys. Improvements in the neighborhood environment could be a strategy for tackling the growing epidemic of childhood obesity and can simultaneously contribute to reduce health inequities across population subgroups.

Copyright © 2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

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