There is growing interest in understanding which aspects of the local environment influence obesity. Using data from the longitudinal West of Scotland Twenty-07 study (n
= 2040) we examined associations between residents’ self-reported neighbourhood problems, measured over a 13-year period, and nurse-measured body weight and size (body mass index, waist circumference, waist–hip ratio) and percentage body fat. We also explored whether particular measures such as abdominal obesity, postulated as a marker for stress, were more strongly related to neighbourhood conditions. Using life course models adjusted for sex, cohort, household social class, and health behaviours, we found that the accumulation of perceived neighbourhood problems was associated with percentage body fat. In cross-sectional analyses, the strongest relationships were found for contemporaneous measures of neighbourhood conditions and adiposity. When analyses were conducted separately by gender, perceived neighbourhood stressors were strongly associated with central obesity measures (waist circumference, waist–hip ratio) among both men and women. Our findings indicate that chronic neighbourhood stressors are associated with obesity. Neighbourhood environments are modifiable, and efforts should be directed towards improving deleterious local environments to reduce the prevalence of obesity.
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