Physical Environmental Correlates of Childhood Obesity

A Systematic Review

This article provides a systematic review of the literature on the relationship between environmental and community factors and childhood obesity. While these factors are thought to contribute to childhood obesity, the nature of the relationship is not well understood.

The authors conducted a literature search and found 15 quantitative studies that met the inclusion criteria. A meta-review of these articles was not possible due to the large number of environmental factors and inconsistencies in methodology, so the authors conducted a systematic review of the data instead.

Key Findings:

  • The review of data did not present strong empirical evidence for relationships between most environmental variables and obesity.
  • Associations between childhood obesity and environment varied by age, gender, population density, socioeconomic status and interview method.
  • Adolescent obesity was associated with access to recreation areas and equipment and population density.

The body of research relating environmental factors and childhood obesity has not yet developed consistent evidence between specific variables and obesity. Future research and methodological improvement may be necessary to expand our understanding of the relationship between obesity and environment.