Publications

Neighborhoods and Obesity in Later Life

We examined the influence of neighborhood environment on the weight status of adults 55 years and older. We conducted a 2-level logistic regression analysis of data from the 2002 wave of the Health and Retirement Study. We included 8 neighborhood scales: economic advantage, economic disadvantage, air pollution, crime and segregation, street connectivity, density, immigrant concentration, and residential stability. When we controlled for individual- and family-level confounders, living in a neighborhood with a high level of economic advantage was associated with a lower likelihood of being obese for both men (odds ratio [OR]=0.86; 95% confidence interval [CI]=0.80, 0.94) and women (OR=0.83; 95% CI=0.77, 0.89). Men living in areas with a high concentration of immigrants and women living in areas of high residential stability were more likely to be obese. Women living in areas of high street connectivity were less likely to be overweight or obese. The mechanisms by which neighborhood environment and weight status are linked in later life differ by gender, with economic and social environment aspects being important for men and built environment aspects being salient for women. OBJECTIVES: We examined the influence of neighborhood environment on the weight status of adults 55 years and older. METHODS: We conducted a 2-level logistic regression analysis of data from the 2002 wave of the Health and Retirement Study. We included 8 neighborhood scales: economic advantage, economic disadvantage, air pollution, crime and segregation, street connectivity, density, immigrant concentration, and residential stability. RESULTS: When we controlled for individual- and family-level confounders, living in a neighborhood with a high level of economic advantage was associated with a lower likelihood of being obese for both men (odds ratio [OR] = 0.86; 95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.80, 0.94) and women (OR = 0.83; 95% CI = 0.77, 0.89). Men living in areas with a high concentration of immigrants and women living in areas of high residential stability were more likely to be obese. Women living in areas of high street connectivity were less likely to be overweight or obese. CONCLUSIONS: The mechanisms by which neighborhood environment and weight status are linked in later life differ by gender, with economic and social environment aspects being important for men and built environment aspects being salient for women.