Effects of Neighborhood SES And Walkability on Obesity: Comparing Adolescents and Young Adults to Assess Selection and Causal Influences
Cathleen Zick, University of Utah
Lori Kowaleski-Jones, University of Utah
Barbara Brown, University of Utah
Ikuho Yamada, University of Utah
Jessie Fan, University of Utah
Studies of neighborhood effects on the risk of overweight or obesity are limited because residents are not randomly distributed by neighborhood. If associations are found between neighborhood characteristics and obesity in observational studies, one cannot confidently draw conclusions about causality. We use data from the Utah Population Database (UPDB) that contain BMI data from all current driver licenses to undertake a cross sectional analysis that contrasts the neighborhood determinants of youth and young adult obesity. This analysis assumes that youth have little choice of residential location but do after leaving home. From the UPDB, we have 55,261 males and 50,527 females in Salt Lake County in 2005. There is evidence of substantial forces of selection among males but not for females. These analyses provide information about the bias in estimating the magnitude of the causal relationship between neighborhoods and the risk of obesity.