Neighborhood Built and Social Environments and Change in Weight Status over the Summer in Low-Income Elementary School Children
Miles, R.; Wang, Y.; Johnson, S.B.
International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 15(6)
ISSN/ISBN: 1660-4601 PMID: 29857473 DOI: 10.3390/ijerph15061124
Neighborhoods can provide opportunities for children to maintain a healthy weight or encourage unhealthy weight gain. Which neighborhood characteristics matter most remains poorly understood. We investigated links between neighborhood characteristics and weight change over the summer in children from 12 elementary schools with a high proportion of children from low-income families, in a mid-sized city in the US South. Mixed models and objective measures of height and weight were used. Study participants were 2770 children (average age 8.3, range 5.6⁻12.6 years). Older and female children and those who were already overweight were more likely to gain weight over the summer compared to younger, male, and normal weight children. Overweight children who lived near 2 or more small grocery stores gained less weight than overweight children who lived near 0 (weight change, p = 0.0468; body mass index (BMI) change, p = 0.0209) or 1 store (weight change, p = 0.0136; BMI change, p = 0.0033). Normal weight children living in neighborhoods with more large multifamily buildings gained more weight over the summer, although this association only approached significance. Additional efforts to understand which neighborhood factors have greater significance for overweight compared to normal weight children are warranted.