Neighborhood Socioeconomic Change over Time and Young Children’s Obesity

Rachel T. Kimbro, Rice University
Justin T. Denney, Rice University
Mackenzie Brewer, Rice University

Numerous studies in the last ten years have investigated correlates of obesity among young children. Increasing attention is paid to the influence of neighborhood environments – social and physical —on a variety of young children’s health outcomes, and we argue the dynamic nature of neighborhoods should be considered. Utilizing restricted geo-coded data from the 2010-2011 Early Childhood Longitudinal Study (Kindergarten) (N=17,180), we utilize multilevel logistic regression models to show that neighborhood change measures on their own have little association with obesity for children. However, we uncover evidence of a ‘poverty paradox’ whereby poor young children in neighborhoods which have improved in overall socioeconomic status since 1990 are at higher risk of obesity, as are wealthier children in neighborhoods which have declined in overall socioeconomic status since 1990. Our findings suggest that not everyone’s health benefits from improvements in the socioeconomic status of neighborhoods.

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 Presented in Session 9. Overweight, Obesity, and Health