Child Obesity and the Interaction of Family and Neighborhood Socioeconomic Context

Ashley Kranjac , Chapman University
Justin T. Denney, Washington State University
Rachel T. Kimbro, Rice University

We explore the extent to which distinctive neighborhood types give rise to social patterning that produces variation in the odds of child obesity. We leverage geocoded electronic medical records for a diverse sample of over 135,000 children aged 2 to 12 and latent profile modeling to characterize places into neighborhood contexts. Multilevel cross-level interaction models between neighborhood type and family socioeconomic standing (SES) reveal that children with different SES, but living in the same neighborhoods, have different odds of obesity. Specifically, we find lower-SES children benefit, but to a lesser degree, from neighborhood advantages and higher-SES children are negatively influenced, to a larger degree, by neighborhood disadvantages. The resulting narrowing of the gap in obesity by SES helps clarify how place matters for children’s odds of obesity and suggests that efforts to improve access to community advantages as well as efforts to address community disadvantages are important to curbing obesity.

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 Presented in Session 212. Neighborhood Influences on Children and Youth