Are obesity and physical activity clustered? A spatial analysis linked to residential density

Obesity (Silver Spring). 2009 Dec;17(12):2202-9. doi: 10.1038/oby.2009.119. Epub 2009 Apr 23.


The aim of this study was to examine spatial clustering of obesity and/or moderate physical activity and their relationship to a neighborhood's built environment. Data on levels of obesity and moderate physical activity were derived from the results of a telephone survey conducted in 2006, with 1,863 survey respondents in the study sample. This sample was spread across eight suburban neighborhoods in Metro Vancouver. These areas were selected to contrast residential density and income and do not constitute a random sample, but within each area, respondents were selected randomly. Obesity and moderate physical activity were mapped to determine levels of global and local spatial autocorrelation within the neighborhoods. Clustering was measured using Moran's I at the global level, Anselin's Local Moran's I at the local level, and geographically weighted regression (GWR). The global-level spatial analysis reveals no significant clustering for the attributes of obesity or moderate physical activity. Within individual neighborhoods, there is moderate clustering of obesity and/or physical activity but these clusters do not achieve statistical significance. In some neighborhoods, local clustering is restricted to a single pair of respondents with moderate physical activity. In other neighborhoods, any moderate local clustering is offset by negative local spatial autocorrelation. Importantly, there is no evidence of significant clustering for the attribute of obesity at either the global or local level of analysis. The GWR analysis fails to improve significantly upon the global model-thus reinforcing the negative results. Overall, the study indicates that the relationship between the urban environment and obesity is not direct.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Canada
  • Cluster Analysis
  • Exercise*
  • Geography
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Motor Activity*
  • Obesity*
  • Population Density*
  • Residence Characteristics
  • Urban Health / statistics & numerical data
  • Urban Population*
  • Young Adult