A Closer Examination of the Relationship Between Children's Weight Status and the Food and Physical Activity Environment

The distance to food locations and physical activity environments was associated with children's weight status in four densely populated, inner-city neighborhoods in New Jersey.

Data was collected from four densely populated, inner-city neighborhoods in four New Jersey cities between 2009 and 2010. Weight status of 702 children, ages 3–18, was assessed based upon parent-provided height and weight measurements. The distance to food locations and physical activity (PA) environments (e.g., parks or facilities) was estimated from each respondent’s home.

Key Findings:

  • Children living in a quarter mile radius of a convenience store had almost twice the odds of being overweight or obese than children living farther away.
  • Children living in a half mile radius of a large park were less than half as likely to be overweight or obese than those who did not.

Proximity to parks and PA facilities for children are often associated with weight status, but studies often yield mixed results. The authors demonstrate that proximity measures are an important aspect to consider in further research of childhood obesity. 

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incr odds that children living w/in a 1/4 mile of a convenience store have of being overweight/obese

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