Poor kids' heaviness linked to less access to yards, parks

by Karene Booker

(Medical Xpress)—Low-income children may be overweight in part because they have less access to open green space where they can play and exercise, reports a Cornell study of obesity in Europe published in Social Science and Medicine (December 2012; Vol. 75).

In the world's richest nations, growing up poor is linked to an increased risk of , putting disadvantaged children at higher risk for a lifetime of obesity and a host of diseases such as heart disease and diabetes later in life. One reason for this association may be inequities in access to green space, which, in turn, affect children's level of physical activity, the study found.

This is the first study to test the full model of the relationships among income, green space, physical activity and (BMI), the authors said.

The team analyzed data from a survey of European housing and health status that included 1,184 children, from 6 to 18 years of age, in eight European cities. The survey collected information on income, child body weight, height and physical activity, and observer ratings of open green space.

The researchers found that lower income children were more likely to live in neighborhoods with less open green space and that this correlated with reduced physical activity and higher BMI.

"Although our study suggests that children's differential access to space for outdoor physical activity plays some role in the , this is a very complex problem with multiple causes," said lead author Gary Evans, the Elizabeth Lee Vincent Professor of in the Departments of Design and Environmental Analysis and of Human Development in Cornell's College of Human Ecology.

"It is important to take an ecological perspective in thinking about the challenge of childhood obesity," he added. "The environment, personality, culture, stress, family history and economics likely all play an important role."

"Given mounting evidence that is rooted in child biology and experience, it behooves us to better understand who, where and how people and their surroundings coalesce to influence the probability of being overweight," he said.

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Teens' chronic stress is linked to time in poverty

Aug 10, 2012

(Medical Xpress) -- Childhood adversity is linked to chronic stress in adolescence, setting the stage for a host of physical and mental health problems, finds a new Cornell study published online in July in Psychological Sc ...

Inactivity 'no contributor' to childhood obesity epidemic

Jul 07, 2010

A new report from the EarlyBird Diabetes Study suggests that physical activity has little if any role to play in the obesity epidemic among children. Obesity is the key factor behind diabetes, heart disease and some cancers.

Recommended for you

Electronic health records tied to shorter time in ER

Sep 19, 2014

(HealthDay)—Length of emergency room stay for trauma patients is shorter with the use of electronic health records, according to a study published in the September issue of the Journal of Emergency Nursing.

CDC: Almost everyone needs a flu shot

Sep 19, 2014

(HealthDay)—Less than half of all Americans got a flu shot last year, so U.S. health officials on Thursday urged that everyone 6 months and older get vaccinated for the coming flu season. "It's really unfortunate ...

User comments