People who move to more socioeconomically deprived neighbourhoods may gain additional weight, a new US study has found.
Certain regions in the US are characterised by a higher prevalence of obesity, which suggests that a person’s socioeconomic, physical and social environments can affect opportunities for healthy behaviours that might prevent excess weight gain, researchers said.
Researchers used data from the Dallas Heart Survey (DHS), a probability-based sample of over 3,000 Dallas County residents aged 18-65 years.
The study began between 2000 and 2002 and a seven-year follow-up was conducted between 2007 and 2009, at which time 1,835 participants completed a detailed survey, anthropometric measures, and laboratory testing.
Each participant was linked to Dallas County census block groups, and a Neighbourhood Deprivation Index (NDI) was calculated for each block group.
Higher values of the NDI indicate a higher level of deprivation.
“This study sheds important light on the impact that changes in neighbourhood socioeconomic deprivation by moving can have on weight change and subsequent obesity,” said lead investigator Tiffany M Powell-Wiley, from Division of Intramural Research, Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Branch, National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.
Among people who relocated, 263 participants moved to a higher-NDI neighbourhood, 586 to a lower-NDI neighbourhood, 47 participants moved but had no NDI change, and 939 participants remained in the same neighbourhood.
Those who moved to higher-NDI areas gained more weight compared to those who remained at the same NDI or moved to lower NDI (0.64 kg per 1-unit NDI increase).
The study also showed that among those who moved to higher-NDI neighbourhoods, the impact of NDI change on weight gain increased for those who lived in a new neighbourhood for more than four years, with a mean additional weight gain per 1-unit NDI increase of 0.85 kg.
The study was published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.