Introduction The prevalence of obesity seems to be increasing in most parts of the world. Some studies have examined the association between the environment and obesity.
Objective To address how neighbourhood factors affect obesity by examining individual, household and neighbourhood-level characteristics.
Methods Data from a multistage (census tracts, households, and residents) household survey (2008-2009) conducted in Belo Horizonte City by the Observatory for Urban Health. Obesity was defined as a body mass index of 30 kg/m2 or more. The individual and household level included demographic and socioeconomic characteristics. To assess the neighbourhood features we used nine scales using individual responses to represent different dimensions of neighbourhood: Public Services, Aesthetic Quality, Walking Environment, Violence, Social Cohesion, Activities with Neighbours, Neighbourhood Physical Disorders, Neighbourhood Social Disorders and Neighbourhood Problems. Multivariate multilevel models were fitted for each scale considering the sampling design.
Results Of the 4048 adults, 54.1% were female; the mean age was 41.2 (CI 40.5 to 41.9) years; the obesity prevalence was 18.2%. For all models obesity was associated with higher age and female gender. After adjusted for individual and household characteristics none scale remained associated with obesity. Although the sampling size comprised to select heterogeneous areas the distribution of obesity was homogenous among the studied area probably masking the contextual effects on obesity.
Conclusion Contrary to expectations, the hypothesis of neighbourhood effects on obesity was not confirmed in this work. We suggest future studies that use other environment measures to provide evidences helping to control the obesity epidemic in the Brazilian population.
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