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Neighbourhood Influences on Children’s Weight-related Behaviours and Body Mass Index

1 Gabrielle L Jenkin, PhD, Department of Public Health, University of Otago, 23A Mein Street, Newtown, PO Box 7343, Wellington 6242, New Zealand;
2 Amber L Pearson, PhD, Michigan State University, Department of Geography, 673 Auditorium Road, East Lansing, MI, 48823, USA and Department of Public Health, University of Otago, 23A Mein Street, Newtown, PO Box 7343. Wellington 6242, New Zealand;
3 Graham Bentham, MA, School of Environmental Sciences, University of East Anglia, Norwich NR4 7TJ, United Kingdom;
4 Peter L Day, MSc, Department of Geography, GeoHealth Laboratory,University of Canterbury, Private Box 1400, Christchurch 8140, New Zealand;
5 Simon P Kingham, PhD, Department of Geography, GeoHealth Laboratory,University of Canterbury, Private Box 1400, Christchurch 8140, New Zealand

Special Issues: Spatial Aspects of Health: Methods and Applications

Introduction: Neighbourhood contextual factors such as accessibility of food shops and green spaces are associated with adult bodyweight but not necessarily weight-related behaviours. Whether these associations are replicated amongst children is unknown.
Aim: To understand which aspects of childrens' neighbourhoods are associated with unhealthy weight and weight-related behaviours.
Methods: Individual-level data for children from the 2006/7 New Zealand Health Survey (of Body Mass Index (BMI), dietary indicators and socioeconomic variables) were linked with geographic level data on neighbourhood deprivation, rural/urban status, percentage of community engaged in active travel, access to green space, food shops and sports/leisure facilities. Logistic regression models were fitted for measures of BMI and weight-related behaviours; sugar sweetened beverage (SSB) consumption; fast-food consumption; and television viewing.
Results:Increased Ccommunity engagement in active transport was, counterintuitively, the only neighbourhood contextual factor associated with unhealthy weight amongst children. After adjustment for socioeconomic and environmental variables, greater access to green space appeared to have a protective effect on SSB consumption and neighbourhood deprivation was associated with all three unhealthy weight-related behaviours (SSB and fast-food consumption and television viewing).
Conclusions: Although further research is needed, evidence from the current study suggests that a repertoire of health promotion interventions and policies to change unhealthy weight- related behaviours in high deprivation neighbourhoods may be required to address childhood obesity.
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Copyright Info: © 2015, Gabrielle L. Jenkin, et al., licensee AIMS Press. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Licese (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0)

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