Childhood obesity inequality in northeast China: joint effect of social economic status and school neighborhood environment

Yang Liu, Angela Cristina Bizzotto Trude, Shenzhi Song, Nan Jiang, Shihan Wang, Joel Gittelsohn, Deliang Wen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Obesogenic environment is important in driving obesity epidemic. Children spend large amount of their time in schools. School neighborhood environment, as well as its interaction with socioeconomic status (SES) needs to be explored to provide evidence for children obesity prevention policies. Methods: Objective anthropometric measurement, a household structured questionnaire, and school geospatial analyses were carried out on 3670 children (aged 9–12 years) of 26 schools in northeast China. Interaction between SES inter-categorical intersectionality group and school neighborhood environment was tested for the effect on children’s body mass index z scores (z-BMI) and waist–hip ratio z scores (z-WHR), following formulation of SES inter-categorical intersectionality group based on household wealth, parental education, and parental occupation. Results: SES groups formed by household wealth, parental education and parental occupation was associated with z-BMI and z-WHR for girls. Those from moderate wealth & self-employed (M&S) families had the highest adjusted z-BMI and z-WHR among all SES groups. School neighborhood environment factors interacted with SES groups in association with WHR for girls. Number of school neighborhood supermarkets and residential sites were negatively associated with z-WHR for girls from M&S families (β= -0.45 (95%CI: -0.76, -0.15) for supermarkets; β= -0.01 (95%CI: -0.03, 0.00) for residential sites). Number of school neighborhood convenience stores and public transport stops were positively associated with z-WHR for girls from M&S families (β = 0.02 (95%CI: 0.00, 0.03) for convenience stores; β = 0.23 (95%CI: 0.15, 0.31) for public transport stops). While non-significant association was found for number of vegetable stores. Conclusion: Girls from moderate wealth & self-employed families may be the group susceptible to school neighborhood environment. Local policies targeted at improving the school neighborhood environment may be one avenue for reducing socioeconomic disparities in obesity especially for girls.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number318
JournalBMC public health
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2023


  • Childhood obesity
  • Neighborhood environment
  • Social economic status

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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