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Neighbourhood environment as a predictor of television watching among girls

Abstract

Background: Television watching, a sedentary activity, has been associated with overweight in children. While the family environment is known to influence television watching, little is known about the influence of the neighbourhood environment. This study is an exploratory examination of the association of socioeconomic characteristics of the neighbourhood environment with television watching among 9–10 year old girls.

Methods: Data collected by the Berkeley site of the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute Growth and Health Study (NGHS) in 1987–8 from 787 girls who had a complete set of measurements relevant to the analysis were used. These measures included parental education, household income, race and weekly hours spent watching television. Addresses of the girls were geocoded and the median household income for the census tracts in which they lived was used to indicate neighbourhood socioeconomic characteristics. Multilevel modelling procedures were used to estimate fixed effect coefficients for individual and neighbourhood level variables.

Results: Living in high income areas was associated with less television watching, a finding that held even when controlling for parental education, household income and race. Race and parental education were also associated with television watching.

Conclusion: Television watching among girls was associated not only with the socioeconomic characteristics of their households, but also of their neighbourhoods. Future studies should explore the mechanisms that mediate this relation and determine if these results are generalisable to other populations.

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