School Environment and Obesity among Urban Adolescents

Michael D. M. Bader, University of Pennsylvania
Catherine Richards, Columbia University
Kathryn Neckerman, Columbia University
James W. Quinn, Columbia University
Christopher C. Weiss, Columbia University
Gina Lovasi, Columbia University
Andrew Rundle, Columbia University

Adolescent obesity is a pressing public health concern. We used data from approximately 142,000 high school students in New York City Public Schools to investigate individual and school-level factors that might contribute to prevalence and disparities in obesity and overweight. Existing research examines the role of social and physical context on obesity in general, and adolescent obesity in particular; however, these studies tend to study an adolescent's residential neighborhood. We extend this research by investigating school composition effects and the environment surrounding schools that could contribute to overall prevalence and disparities in overweight and obesity among urban high school students. We examine school compositional effects of race, percent of students qualifying for a free or reduced price lunch, and foreign born status, as well as characteristics of the built environment surrounding schools, such as the availability of bodegas or corner stores, fast food establishments, and the "walkability" of the neighborhood.

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Presented in Session 6: Race, Ethnicity, and Health: Contextual Influences