Perceptions of local neighbourhood environments and their relationship to childhood overweight and obesity

Int J Obes (Lond). 2005 Feb;29(2):170-5. doi: 10.1038/sj.ijo.0802865.


Objectives: To examine associations between parent and child perceptions of the local neighbourhood and overweight/obesity among children aged 5-6 and 10-12 y.

Design: Cross-sectional survey.

Subjects: In total, 291 families of 5-6-y-old and 919 families of 10-12-y-old children.

Measures: Parent's perceptions of local neighbourhood and perceived child access to eight local destinations within walking distance of home; 10-12-y-old children's perception of local neighbourhood; socio-demographic characteristics (survey). Children's height and weight (measured).

Results: No perceptions of the local neighbourhood were associated with weight status among 5-6-y-old children. Among 10-12-y-old children, those whose parents agreed that there was heavy traffic in their local streets were more likely to be overweight or obese (OR=1.4, 95% CI=1.0-1.8), and those whose parents agreed that road safety was a concern were more likely to be obese (OR=3.9, 95% CI=1.0-15.2), compared to those whose parents disagreed with these statements.

Conclusions: This study suggests that parental perceptions of heavy traffic on local streets and concern about road safety may be indirect influences on overweight and obesity among 10-12-y-old children. Future work should also consider perceptions of the neighbourhood related to food choice.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Attitude*
  • Body Height
  • Body Weight
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Environment
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Motor Vehicles
  • Obesity / etiology*
  • Parenting
  • Residence Characteristics*
  • Risk Factors
  • Social Class