Neighborhood a Factor in Childhood Obesity
Researchers from Toronto, Ontario, Canada identify a child’s neighborhood as one of the modifiable risk factors that can affect their likelihood of becoming obese. The study is part of a research collaboration called TARGetKids! (The Applied Research Group for Kids), which looks into the factors children have early in life that could later lead to health problems.
Lead author Julia B. Morinis, MD, MSc, a pediatrician at Hospital for Sick Children, and colleagues enrolled about 4,000 healthy children ages 0-5 years and collected data on their physical measurements, nutrition, and physical activity. Details about area of residency, their neighborhood, population, car ownership, neighborhood safety and distance to retail locations and parks were asked. They also took blood samples from the participants.
The investigators found that 21% of the children were overweight, and 5% were obese. Most of the children who were overweight or obese lived in neighborhoods that had fewer destinations within walking distance.
After adjusting for other risk factors associated with obesity, such as age, gender, birth weight, physical activity, parental body mass index (BMI), socioeconomic status, ethnicity, and immigration, the researchers concluded that a child’s BMI is related to how conducive their neighborhood is to physical activity. However, the investigators believe that more research is needed to better understand the association between obesity and neighborhood to reduce the risk of obesity through neighborhood changes and urban planning,.
American Academy of Pediatrics. Childhood obesity starts at home. ScienceDaily.