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Collective efficacy and obesity: The potential influence of social factors on health

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  • Cohen, Deborah A.
  • Finch, Brian K.
  • Bower, Aimee
  • Sastry, Narayan
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    Abstract

    Social determinants have been identified as a fundamental cause of health and disease in most industrialized countries. However, much less is known about which characteristics of communities may lead to disparities in health outcomes. Collective efficacy--the willingness of community members to look out for each other and intervene when trouble arises--is a social factor shown to be associated with outcomes related to obesity, including premature mortality and cardiovascular disease. The objective of this study is to determine whether neighborhood collective efficacy is associated with individual measures of body mass index (BMI) in adolescents. We use a multi-level, cross-sectional survey in Los Angeles County, involving 807 adolescents in 684 households in 65 neighborhoods in addition to a sample of 3000 adult respondents. The main outcomes measures are BMI, at risk of overweight, and overweight status. Using a two-level model, we find significant relationships between collective efficacy and all three outcomes, net of levels of neighborhood disadvantage. The associations between BMI and collective efficacy could potentially be explained by several factors, including a metabolic pathway, neighborhood differences in the physical and social environments, or a combination of these two. If group-level collective efficacy is indeed important in the regulation of individual-level net energy balance, it suggests that future interventions to control weight by addressing the social environment at the community level may be promising.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Social Science & Medicine.

    Volume (Year): 62 (2006)
    Issue (Month): 3 (February)
    Pages: 769-778

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    Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:62:y:2006:i:3:p:769-778

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    Related research

    Keywords: Obesity Collective efficacy Neighborhood effects Adolescents Social influences USA;

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    Cited by:
    1. Rachel Tolbert Kimbro & Jeanne Brooks-Gunn & Sara McLanahan, 2010. "Neighborhood Context, Poverty, and Urban Children’s Outdoor Play," Working Papers 1226, Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Center for Research on Child Wellbeing..
    2. Brent Berry & Taralyn McMullen, 2008. "Visual communication to children in the supermarket context: Health protective or exploitive?," Agriculture and Human Values, Springer, vol. 25(3), pages 333-348, September.
    3. Ullmann, S. Heidi & Goldman, Noreen & Pebley, Anne R., 2013. "Contextual factors and weight change over time: A comparison between U.S. Hispanics and other population sub-groups," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 90(C), pages 40-48.
    4. Alfonso, Moya L. & Nickelson, Jen & Hogeboom, David L. & French, Jennifer & Bryant, Carol A. & McDermott, Robert J. & Baldwin, Julie A., 2008. "Assessing local capacity for health intervention," Evaluation and Program Planning, Elsevier, vol. 31(2), pages 145-159, May.
    5. Renna, Francesco & Grafova, Irina B. & Thakur, Nidhi, 2008. "The effect of friends on adolescent body weight," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 6(3), pages 377-387, December.

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