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Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2006 Jan;160(1):25-31.

Neighborhood safety and overweight status in children.

Author information

1
Center for Human Growth and Development and Department of Pediatrics and Communicable Diseases, University of Michigan, 300 North Ingalls Building 10th Floor, Ann Arbor, MI 48109-0406, USA. jlumeng@umich.edu

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

To determine if there is a relationship between parental perception of neighborhood safety and overweight at the age of 7 years.

DESIGN:

Cross-sectional analysis of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development.

SETTING:

Ten urban and rural US sites.

PARTICIPANTS:

A total of 768 children selected via conditional random sampling with complete data at follow-up.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES:

Parents reported demographics and perception of neighborhood safety by standardized questionnaire. Child overweight status was defined as a body mass index greater than or equal to the 95th percentile for age and sex from measured anthropometrics at the age of 7 years. The base model included relationship of the safety reporter to the child, sex, and baseline body mass index z score at the age of 4.5 years. Covariates tested included maternal marital status, education, and depressive symptoms; child race/ethnicity; participation in structured after-school activities; Home Observation for Measurement of the Environment total score; and neighborhood social cohesiveness.

RESULTS:

The sample was 85% white, and 10% of the children were overweight. Neighborhood safety ratings in the lowest quartile were independently associated with a higher risk of overweight at the age of 7 years compared with safety ratings in the highest quartile (adjusted odds ratio, 4.43; 95% confidence interval, 2.03-9.65). None of the candidate covariates altered the relationship between perception of neighborhood safety and child overweight status.

CONCLUSIONS:

Perception of the neighborhood as less safe was independently associated with an increased risk of overweight at the age of 7 years. Public health efforts may benefit from policies directed toward improving both actual and perceived neighborhood safety.

PMID:
16389207
DOI:
10.1001/archpedi.160.1.25
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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