Environmental and lifestyle factors associated with overweight and obesity in Perth, Australia

Am J Health Promot. Sep-Oct 2003;18(1):93-102. doi: 10.4278/0890-1171-18.1.93.


Purpose: To examine associations between environmental and lifestyle factors and overweight or obesity.

Design: A cross-sectional survey and an environmental scan of recreational facilities.

Setting: Metropolitan Perth, Western Australia.

Subjects: Healthy sedentary workers and homemakers aged 18 to 59 years (n = 1803) living in areas within the top and bottom quintiles of social disadvantage.

Measures: Four lifestyle factors, one social environmental factor, and five physical environment factors (three objectively measured).

Results: After adjustment for demographic factors and other variables in the model, overweight was associated with living on a highway (odds ratio [OR], 4.24; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.62-11.09) or streets with no sidewalks or sidewalks on one side only (OR, 1.35; 95% CI, 1.03-1.78) and perceiving no paths within walking distance (OR, 1.42; 95% CI, 1.08-1.86). Poor access to four or more recreational facilities (OR, 1.68; 95% CI, 1.11-2.55) and sidewalks (OR, 1.62; 95% CI, .98-2.68) and perceiving no shop within walking distance (OR, 1.84; 95% CI, 1.01-3.36) were associated with obesity. Conversely, access to a motor vehicle all the time was negatively associated with obesity (OR, .56; 95% CI, .32-.99). Watching 3 or more hours of television daily (ORs, 1.92 and 1.85, respectively) and rating oneself as less active than others (ORs, 1.66 and 4.05, respectively) were associated with both overweight and obesity. After adjustment for individual demographic factors and all other variables in the model, socioeconomic status of area of residence and leisure-time physical activity were not associated with overweight or obesity.

Conclusion: Factors that influence overweight and obesity appear to differ, but aspects of the physical environment may be important. Objectively measured neighborhood environment factors warrant further investigation.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Body Mass Index
  • Environment Design*
  • Exercise
  • Female
  • Health Behavior*
  • Humans
  • Leisure Activities*
  • Life Style*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Obesity / epidemiology*
  • Obesity / etiology
  • Regression Analysis
  • Residence Characteristics
  • Social Environment*
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Urban Health
  • Walking / statistics & numerical data
  • Western Australia / epidemiology