Explaining educational disparities in adiposity: the role of neighborhood environments

Gavin Abbott, Kathryn Backholer, Anna Peeters, Lukar Thornton, David Crawford, Kylie Ball

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: To examine the extent to which characteristics of the neighborhood built environment explain the association between adiposity and educational qualifications in Australian women. Methods: A community sample of 1,819 women (aged 18-66) from the Melbourne SESAW study provided information regarding their body mass index (BMI) and level of education. Objective measures of participants residential neighborhood built environments were obtained using a Geographic Information System. Results: Compared with women with a high school degree or above, women who did not complete high school had higher average BMI, which was partially explained by lower density of sports facilities and living less proximally to the coastline and to supermarkets. In a multiple mediator model, which explained 16.6 of the educational disparity in BMI, the number of sports facilities and presence of the coastline within 2 km of participants homes were significant mediators of the observed socioeconomic disparity in BMI. Conclusions: The residential neighborhood environment may help to explain socioeconomic patterning of overweight and obesity in Australian women. These results provide further support for considering the built environment in obesity prevention initiatives, suggesting a potential role in decreasing social inequalities in obesity.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2413 - 2419
Number of pages7
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 2014

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