Cancer Causes & Control

, Volume 29, Issue 1, pp 167–183 | Cite as

Characterizing the neighborhood obesogenic environment in the Multiethnic Cohort: a multi-level infrastructure for cancer health disparities research

  • Shannon M. Conroy
  • Salma Shariff-Marco
  • Juan Yang
  • Andrew Hertz
  • Myles Cockburn
  • Yurii B. Shvetsov
  • Christina A. Clarke
  • Cheryl L. Abright
  • Christopher A. Haiman
  • Loïc Le Marchand
  • Laurence N. Kolonel
  • Kristine R. Monroe
  • Lynne R. Wilkens
  • Scarlett Lin Gomez
  • Iona Cheng
Original paper



We characterized the neighborhood obesogenic environment in the Multiethnic Cohort (MEC) by examining the associations of obesity with attributes of the social and built environment, establishing a multi-level infrastructure for future cancer research.


For 102,906 African American, Japanese American, Latino, and white MEC participants residing predominately in Los Angeles County, baseline residential addresses (1993–1996) were linked to census and geospatial data, capturing neighborhood socioeconomic status (nSES), population density, commuting, food outlets, amenities, walkability, and traffic density. We examined neighborhood attributes and obesity (body mass index ≥ 30 kg/m2) associations using multinomial logistic regression, adjusting for individual-level (e.g., demographics, physical activity, and diet) and neighborhood-level factors.


NSES was associated with obesity among African Americans, Latinos, and whites (p-trend ≤ 0.02), with twofold higher odds (adjusted odds ratios, 95% confidence intervals) for living in the lowest versus highest quintile among African American women (2.07, 1.62–2.65), white men (2.11, 1.29–3.44), and white women (2.50, 1.73–3.61). Lower density of businesses among African American and white women and lower traffic density among white men were also associated with obesity (p-trends ≤ 0.02).


Our study highlights differential impacts of neighborhood factors across racial/ethnic groups and establishes the foundation for multi-level studies of the neighborhood context and obesity-related cancers.


Neighborhood environment Obesity Race/ethnicity Socioeconomic status 



This work was supported by the National Cancer Institute grant R01 CA154644. The Multiethnic Cohort Study was supported by the National Cancer Institute grants R01 CA54281, R37CA54281, and UM1 CA164973 to L. Le Marchand, L.R. Wilkens, and C.A. Haiman. The development of the California Neighborhoods Data System was supported by the National Cancer Institute grant (R03 CA117324) and by a Rapid Response Surveillance Study from the SEER program under a modification to contract N01-PC-35136.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

All authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

10552_2017_980_MOESM1_ESM.docx (53 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 54 KB)
10552_2017_980_MOESM2_ESM.docx (23 kb)
Supplementary material 2 (DOCX 23 KB)
10552_2017_980_MOESM3_ESM.docx (43 kb)
Supplementary material 3 (DOCX 43 KB)


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Shannon M. Conroy
    • 1
  • Salma Shariff-Marco
    • 2
  • Juan Yang
    • 2
  • Andrew Hertz
    • 2
  • Myles Cockburn
    • 3
  • Yurii B. Shvetsov
    • 4
  • Christina A. Clarke
    • 2
  • Cheryl L. Abright
    • 5
  • Christopher A. Haiman
    • 6
  • Loïc Le Marchand
    • 4
  • Laurence N. Kolonel
    • 4
  • Kristine R. Monroe
    • 6
  • Lynne R. Wilkens
    • 4
  • Scarlett Lin Gomez
    • 1
    • 2
    • 7
  • Iona Cheng
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Epidemiology and BiostatisticsUniversity of California, San Francisco, School of MedicineSan FranciscoUSA
  2. 2.Cancer Prevention Institute of CaliforniaFremontUSA
  3. 3.Colorado School of Public HealthUniversity of ColoradoDenverUSA
  4. 4.University of Hawaii Cancer CenterHonoluluUSA
  5. 5.University of Hawaii at Manoa School of Nursing and Dental HygieneHonoluluUSA
  6. 6.University of Southern CaliforniaLos AngelesUSA
  7. 7.Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer CenterUniversity of CaliforniaSan FranciscoUSA

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