The association between neighborhood characteristics and body size and physical activity in the california teachers study cohort

Theresa H Keegan, Susan Hurley, Debbie Goldberg, David O. Nelson, Peggy Reynolds, Leslie Bernstein, Pam L. Horn-Ross, Scarlett L. Gomez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

19 Scopus citations


Objectives. We considered interactions between physical activity and body mass index (BMI) and neighborhood factors. Methods. We used recursive partitioning to identify predictors of low recreational physical activity (<2.5 hours/week) and overweight and obesity (BMI ≥25.0 kg/m 2) among 118 315 women in the California Teachers Study. Neighborhood characteristics were based on 2000 US Census data and Reference US business listings. Results. Low physical activity and being overweight or obese were associated with individual sociodemographic characteristics, including race/ethnicity and age. Among White women aged 36 to 75 years, living in neighborhoods with more household crowding was associated with a higher probability of low physical activity (54% vs 45% to 51%). In less crowded neighborhoods where more people worked outside the home, the existence of fewer neighborhood amenities was associated with a higher probability of low physical activity (51% vs 46%). Among non-African American middle-aged women, living in neighborhoods with a lower socioeconomic status was associated with a higher probability of being overweight or obese (46% to 59% vs 38% in high-socioeconomic status neighborhoods). Conclusions. Associations between physical activity, overweight and obesity, and the built environment varied by sociodemographic characteristics in this educated population.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)689-697
Number of pages9
JournalAmerican Journal of Public Health
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2012
Externally publishedYes


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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