Research Alert: August 21, 2019

Development of a Childhood Obesogenic Environment Index

The most rural (noncore) counties had higher (worse) average childhood obesogenic environment index scores compared to their metropolitan or micropolitan counterparts. By region, the South had the highest (worst) observed obesogenic environment index scores compared to the West, Midwest, and Northeast regions. Southern noncore counties had the greatest obesogenic environment burden; whereas, Northeast metropolitan counties had the lowest burden.

The foundation of our obesogenic environment index was variables that represent resource availability. It is important to note that counties that have fewer total resources to promote healthy eating and physical activity (e.g., lower access to grocery stores, poorer walkability) do not necessarily have higher childhood obesity prevalence or vice versa. Other key area-level drivers of childhood obesity including socioeconomic status, lack of health insurance, and proportion of racial/ethnic minorities may interact with an area's physical environment to determine obesity outcomes. Additional research is needed to explore the additive and multiplicative interaction between the obesogenic environment and other area-level sociodemographic factors that predict childhood obesity.

Contact Information:

Andrew Kaczynski, PhD
Rural and Minority Health Research Center
Phone: 803.777.7063

Additional Resources of Interest: