This study applied socioecological and cumulative risk exposure frameworks to test the hypotheses that 1) the experience of poverty is associated with feeling less safe at school, and 2) feeling less safe is associated with engaging in poorer weight-related behaviors, as well as an increased probability of being overweight or obese. Data were from the ongoing Québec Longitudinal Study of Child Development, initiated in 1998 with a population-based cohort of 2,120 Québec (Canada) infants 5 months of age and their parent or primary caregiver. Measures of youths' (age, 13 years) self-reported feelings of safety, screen time, physical activity, and objectively assessed not overweight/obese (70%), overweight (22%), and obese (8%) weight status were collected in 2011. Family poverty trajectory from birth was assessed by using latent growth modeling. As hypothesized, exposure to poverty was associated with feeling less safe at school and, in turn, with an increased probability of being overweight or obese. The association was most pronounced for youths who experienced chronic poverty. Compared with youths who experienced no poverty and felt unsafe, those who experienced chronic poverty and felt unsafe were nearly 18% more likely to be obese (9.2% vs. 11.2%). Although feeling unsafe was associated with screen time, screen time did not predict weight status.
Keywords: Canada; birth cohort; obesity; safety; structural equation modeling; television; trajectory.
© The Author 2015. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. All rights reserved. For permissions, please e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.