Abstract 14516: Relationship between Perceived Neighborhood Stress and Prevalent Obesity: Data from the Dallas Heart Study
Background: Although psychological stress can result in adverse health behaviors and outcomes, little is known about chronic stress due to neighborhood characteristics and its association to obesity, a cause of disability, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
Methods and Results: We examined the association between chronic stress due to neighborhood characteristics and obesity measured by body mass index (BMI) among 5907 participants in the Dallas Heart Study, a multi-ethnic, probability-based sample of Dallas County residents. Participants were asked to respond using a 5-point Likert scale to 18 questions about perceptions of their neighborhood environment such as: “How serious is lack of recreation areas in neighborhood?” (“not at all serious” to “very serious”). Using factor analysis, we identified three factors associated with neighborhood stress (neighborhood violence, physical environment, and social cohesion). Logistic regression analyses were performed to determine the relationship between each factor-related neighborhood stress score (score range 3-30 points, higher score = higher perceived stress) and odds of obesity (BMI ≥ 30 kg/m2). Age, income, and education associated inversely with all 3 factors reflecting neighborhood stress (violence, physical environment, and social cohesion) while BMI was only significantly associated to stress due to physical environment (p trend <0.001 for all). Blacks had significantly higher physical environment and violence stress scores compared to Hispanics and whites (p<0.001). Adjustment for race, age, gender, income and education revealed that every one point increase in physical environment stress score was associated with a 3% increase in odds of obesity (OR 1.03, 95% CI 1.01-1.04). Predictors of obesity related to environmental stress were lack of recreational areas (OR 1.44, 95% CI 1.12-1.87) and lack of sidewalks (OR 1.44, 95% CI 1.07-1.93). Stress related to violence or social cohesion was not associated with obesity.
Conclusions: Neighborhood stress due to environmental physical conditions is related to increased obesity in Dallas Heart Study participants. Efforts to improve the physical characteristics of neighborhoods may assist in prevention of obesity in this community.
- © 2010 by American Heart Association, Inc.