Do neighbourhood environments contribute to ethnic differences in obesity, physical activity and diets?
The prevalence of obesity has quadrupled over the last 25 years in the UK, with two-thirds now overweight or obese. Ethnic differences in obesity are well known but the cause is poorly understood. The macro-environment (e.g. retail distribution chains and catering outlets) patterns food choices and engagement in physical activity but little is known about how this interacts with ethnicity. This project investigates how the context of geographic areas may affect ethnic differences in obesity and related risk behaviours.
The project make novel use of various data sets. The Health Surveys for England (HSE; 1999 and 2004) hold a range of data on individuals (e.g. including physical activity, diet, body size) from the major ethnic minority groups. Area measures of ethnic density, deprivation, food retail environment and physical activity facilities were obtained from a range of data sources (e.g. Neighbourhood Statistics, SportEngland). These ecologic data was merged to the individual records on the HSE. Multilevel models are used to examine how individual characteristics and area-level variables relate to ethnic differences in outcomes.