Residential Mobility and Trajectories of Adiposity among Adolescents in Urban and Non-urban Neighborhoods
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Using data from the 1994–2008 National Longitudinal Study of Adult Health (Add Health), this research examines the relationship between residential mobility and weight gain over time among urban and non-urban young adults. It is theorized that changes in residence act as a barrier to achieving an active lifestyle, which would increase an individual’s body mass index (BMI) over time. Relying on linear mixed-effects growth curve models, the results indicate that mobility is protective against weight gain over time after controlling for sociodemographic characteristics. For young adults who are residentially stable in urban neighborhoods, increases in physical activity are associated with a linear decline in BMI. In non-urban areas where respondents are residentially mobile, body weight does not fluctuate as sedentary behavior increases. However, in those areas, weight increases as sedentary behavior increases for those who did not move. Overall, the results suggest that the effect of mobility on weight gain is partially due to the kind of health behaviors that one engages in as well as whether or not one lives in an urban area. Policies geared toward relocating residents (such as Moving to Opportunity), and neighborhood processes that can lead individuals to change residences (such as foreclosures or gentrification) may have adverse health effects depending on whether they are occurring in urban or non-urban areas.
KeywordsActive lifestyle Body mass index Mobility Neighborhoods Obesity Sedentary behavior
This research uses data from Add Health, a program project directed by Kathleen Mullan Harris and designed by J. Richard Udry, Peter S. Bearman, and Kathleen Mullan Harris at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and funded by grant P01-HD31921 from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, with cooperative funding from 23 other federal agencies and foundations. Special acknowledgment is due to Ronald R. Rindfuss and Barbara Entwisle for assistance in the original design. Information on how to obtain the Add Health data files is available on the Add Health website (http://www.cpc.unc.edu/addhealth). No direct support was received from grant P01- HD31921 for this analysis. This research was supported by a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (Grant number 69595).
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