Environmental correlates of adiposity in 9-10 year old children: considering home and school neighbourhoods and routes to school.
Social science & medicine (1982) 2010 ; 72: 1411-9.
PubMed ID : 21481505
The rapid speed of the recent rise in obesity rates suggest environmental causes. There is therefore a need to determine which components of the environment may be contributing to this increase. In this cross-sectional study, we examined the associations between adiposity and the characteristics of areas around homes, schools and routes to school among 1995 9-10 year old boys and girls in Norfolk, UK. The relationships between Fat Mass Index (FMI, calculated as fat mass (kg)/height (m)(2)) and objectively computed environmental indicators describing access to food outlets and physical activity facilities, the safety and connectivity of the road network, and the mix of land uses present were investigated. Multivariable hierarchical regression models were fitted with log-transformed FMI as the outcome, and stratification by gender and mode of travel to school. Among girls, better access to healthy food outlets (supermarkets and greengrocers) in the home environment was associated with lower FMI while better access to unhealthy outlets (takeaways and convenience stores) around homes and schools was associated with higher FMI. Also in girls, a higher proportion of accessible open land and a lower mix of land uses around the school were associated with higher FMI. Among boys the presence of major roads in the home neighbourhood was associated with higher FMI among non-active travellers, while major roads in the school neighbourhood were associated with lower FMI among active travellers. No significant associations were seen between FMI and any of the route characteristics. While the relative paucity of associations provides few indicators for the design of effective interventions, there was some evidence that environmental characteristics may be more important among active travellers than non-active travellers, and among girls than boys, suggesting that future interventions should be sensitive to such differences.