The objective of the study was to examine the independent effects of neighborhood poverty and psychosocial stress on increases in central adiposity over time. Data are from a community sample of 157 Non-Hispanic Black, Non-Hispanic White, and Hispanic adults collected in 2002-2003 and 2007-2008, and from the 2000 Decennial Census. The dependent variable was waist circumference. Independent variables included neighborhood poverty, perceived neighborhood physical environment, family stress, safety stress, everyday unfair treatment, and a cumulative stress index. Weighted 3-level hierarchical linear regression models for a continuous outcome were used to assess the effects of neighborhood poverty and psychosocial stress on central adiposity over time. We also assessed whether psychosocial stress mediated the association between neighborhood poverty and central adiposity. Neighborhood poverty and everyday unfair treatment at baseline were independently associated with increases in central adiposity over time, accounting for the other indicators of stress. Perceptions of the neighborhood physical environment and cumulative stress mediated associations between neighborhood poverty and central adiposity. Results suggest that residing in neighborhoods with higher concentrations of poverty and exposure to everyday unfair treatment independently heighten risk of increased central adiposity over time. Associations between neighborhood poverty and central adiposity were mediated by perceptions of the neighborhood physical environment and by the cumulative stress index. Public health strategies to reduce obesity should consider neighborhood poverty and exposure to multiple sources of psychosocial stress, including everyday unfair treatment.
Keywords: Central adiposity; Everyday unfair treatment; Neighborhood poverty; Perceived discrimination; Psychosocial stress.