Neighborhood Context and Racial/Ethnic Differences in Young Children’s Obesity: Structural Barriers to Interventions

Rachel T. Kimbro, Rice University
Justin T. Denney, Rice University

Numerous studies in the last ten years have investigated racial/ethnic disparities in obesity for young children. Increasing attention is paid to the influence of neighborhood environments – social and physical – on young children’s health outcomes. This work shows consistently higher rates of obesity in more deprived areas. None of this work, however, has explored whether area deprivation contributes to racial/ethnic disparities in young children’s obesity. Utilizing restricted geo-coded data from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study-Kindergarten (N=14,680), we use multilevel logistic regression models to show that living in a tract with higher poverty levels, as well as a higher proportion of residents with low education, and tracts with a higher proportion of people receiving public assistance, is associated with increased child obesity risk after considering a variety of individual level factors. Regardless of individual-level choices or changes in behaviors, significant structural barriers to preventing childhood obesity are likely to persist.

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Presented in Session 103: The Neighborhood Context of Child Obesity