Overweight children: assessing the contribution of the built environment

Prev Med. 2008 Sep;47(3):304-8. doi: 10.1016/j.ypmed.2008.04.012. Epub 2008 May 3.


Objective: To examine the relationship between the built environment and overweight status in children.

Methods: Analyses were based on 2482 children aged 5-18 and their primary care givers who participated in the second wave of the Child Development Supplement (CDS-II) of the Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID). CDS-II is a nationally representative survey that was administered in October 2002-May 2003. A number of built environment characteristics were examined: population density, alpha index of connectivity, urban design, pedestrian fatality from motor vehicle crashes, restaurant density, and grocery store and convenience store densities. Also, interviewer's observations on neighborhood physical disorder, such as the condition and upkeep of the buildings and street surface on the block were analyzed.

Results: Living in a neighborhood with higher convenience store density (OR=1.3, p<0.05) and living in a neighborhood built after 1969 (OR=1.9, p<0.01) is associated with a higher probability of being overweight for children and adolescents. Living in the neighborhood where no physical disorder (OR=0.5, p<0.01) is observed is associated with a decreased likelihood of being overweight.

Conclusions: The results of this study emphasize a particular importance of the built environment of the neighborhood for weight status of children and adolescents.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Age Factors
  • Attitude to Health
  • Child
  • Child Welfare
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Environment Design*
  • Environmental Health*
  • Exercise* / psychology
  • Facility Design and Construction
  • Female
  • Health Behavior*
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Motor Activity*
  • Overweight / epidemiology*
  • Overweight / prevention & control
  • Residence Characteristics