Objective: The purpose of this cross-sectional study was to establish neighborhood built environment correlates of adiposity as measured by dual x-ray absorptiometry (DXA). The utility and methodological gains of using this measure for built environment research was further investigated by comparing model fit across parallel models on BMI z-scores and waist circumference.
Methods: Pre-existing data collected from 2001-2001 on 576 overweight and obese Hispanic youth were compiled with built environment data, and 2000 Census data for analyses conducted in 2012. Walking-distance buffers were built around participants' residential locations. Variables for park space, food access, walkability, and neighborhood socio-cultural aspects were entered into a multivariate regression model predicting percent body fat. Parallel models were built for BMI z-score, and waist circumference.
Results: Significant associations were found between percent body fat and supermarket access for boys, and percent body fat and increased park space and decreased neighborhood linguistic isolation for girls. Neighborhood socio-cultural characteristics accounted for more variance in obesity compared to BMI z-score or waist circumference.
Conclusion: Park access, food environment, and neighborhood socio-cultural characteristics are independent contributors to body fat in children, and the contribution of these risks differs by gender. There are incremental gains to using a more accurate measure of body fat in built environment obesity studies.