Body mass index in urban Canada: neighborhood and metropolitan area effects

Am J Public Health. 2007 Mar;97(3):500-8. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2004.060954. Epub 2007 Jan 31.


Objectives: We investigated the influence of neighborhood and metropolitan area characteristics on body mass index (BMI) in urban Canada in 2001.

Methods: We conducted a multilevel analysis with data collected from a cross-sectional survey of men and women nested in neighborhoods and metropolitan areas in urban Canada during 2001.

Results: After we controlled for individual sociodemographic characteristics and behaviors, the average BMIs of residents of neighborhoods in which a large proportion of individuals had less than a high school education were higher than those BMIs of residents in neighborhoods with small proportions of such individuals (P< .01). Living in a neighborhood with a high proportion of recent immigrants was associated with lower BMI for men (P<.01), but not for women. Neighborhood dwelling density was not associated with BMI for either gender. Metropolitan sprawl was associated with higher BMI for men (P=.02), but the effect was not significant for women (P= .09).

Conclusions: BMI is strongly patterned by an individual's social position in urban Canada. A neighborhood's social condition has an incremental influence on the average BMI of its residents. However, BMI is not influenced by dwelling density. Metropolitan sprawl is associated with higher BMI for Canadian men, which supports recent evidence of this same association among American men. Individuals and their environments collectively influence BMI in urban Canada.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Body Mass Index*
  • Canada / epidemiology
  • Censuses
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Emigration and Immigration / statistics & numerical data*
  • Environment*
  • Female
  • Health Status Indicators*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Population Density
  • Residence Characteristics / classification*
  • Social Class
  • Social Conformity
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Urban Health / statistics & numerical data*