Neighborhood Context and Social Disparities in Waist Size and Body Mass Index

Jeffrey D. Morenoff, University of Michigan
Katherine Y. Lin, University of Michigan
James S. House, University of Michigan
Michael Elliott, University of Michigan

This study assesses the role of neighborhood context in explaining racial/ethnic and socioeconomic disparities in both waist size and obesity, using data from the Chicago Community Adult Health Study, a sample of 3105 adults aged 18 and over, living in the city of Chicago, IL and stratified into 343 neighborhood clusters. The initial results reveal that neighborhood context accounts for a modest share of black-white differences in waist size and BMI, and a larger share of educational disparities in both outcomes. Both racial and educational disparities are more pronounced among women compared to men, and neighborhood context plays a larger role in accounting for obesity-related disparities among women compared to men. Affluent/gentrifying neighborhoods appear to provide some protection against having larger waist sizes and higher BMI. Neighborhood disadvantage, the focus of much of the literature on neighborhoods and health, was not significantly related to either waist size or BMI.

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Presented in Session 27: Multilevel Models of Health