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Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2018, 15(3), 473; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph15030473

Modeling Pediatric Body Mass Index and Neighborhood Environment at Different Spatial Scales

1
Department of Biostatistics, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA 23298, USA
2
Department of Environmental Medicine and Public Health, Mount Sinai, New York, NY 10029, USA
3
Children’s Hospital of Richmond, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA 23298, USA
4
Department of Family Medicine and Population Health, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA 23298, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 17 December 2017 / Revised: 11 February 2018 / Accepted: 3 March 2018 / Published: 8 March 2018
(This article belongs to the Collection Methodological Innovations and Reflections)
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Abstract

In public health research, it has been well established that geographic location plays an important role in influencing health outcomes. In recent years, there has been an increased emphasis on the impact of neighborhood or contextual factors as potential risk factors for childhood obesity. Some neighborhood factors relevant to childhood obesity include access to food sources, access to recreational facilities, neighborhood safety, and socioeconomic status (SES) variables. It is common for neighborhood or area-level variables to be available at multiple spatial scales (SS) or geographic units, such as the census block group and census tract, and selection of the spatial scale for area-level variables can be considered as a model selection problem. In this paper, we model the variation in body mass index (BMI) in a study of pediatric patients of the Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) Medical Center, while considering the selection of spatial scale for a set of neighborhood-level variables available at multiple spatial scales using four recently proposed spatial scale selection algorithms: SS forward stepwise regression, SS incremental forward stagewise regression, SS least angle regression (LARS), and SS lasso. For pediatric BMI, we found evidence of significant positive associations with visit age and black race at the individual level, percent Hispanic white at the census block group level, percent Hispanic black at the census tract level, and percent vacant housing at the census tract level. We also found significant negative associations with population density at the census tract level, median household income at the census tract level, percent renter at the census tract level, and exercise equipment expenditures at the census block group level. The SS algorithms selected covariates at different spatial scales, producing better goodness-of-fit in comparison to traditional models, where all area-level covariates were modeled at the same scale. These findings underscore the importance of considering spatial scale when performing model selection. View Full-Text
Keywords: spatial scale; model selection; lasso; body mass index; obesity spatial scale; model selection; lasso; body mass index; obesity
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Grant, L.P.; Gennings, C.; Wickham, E.P.; Chapman, D.; Sun, S.; Wheeler, D.C. Modeling Pediatric Body Mass Index and Neighborhood Environment at Different Spatial Scales. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2018, 15, 473.

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