Changes in Perceptions of Neighborhood Environment and Cardiometabolic Outcomes in Two Predominantly African American Neighborhoods

Published in: BMC Public Health, Volume 23, Article number 52 (2020). doi: 10.1186/s12889-019-8119-9

Posted on on March 16, 2021

by Tiffany L. Gary-Webb, Natalie Suder Egnot, Alvin Kristian Nugroho, Tamara Dubowitz, Wendy M. Troxel

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Perceived neighborhood characteristics, including satisfaction with one's neighborhood as a place to live, are associated with lower obesity rates and more favorable cardiovascular risk factor profiles. Yet, few studies have evaluated whether changes in perceived neighborhood characteristics over time may be associated with cardiometabolic health indicators.


Changes in perception of one's neighborhood (2013–2016) were determined from a cohort of residents who lived in one of two low-income urban neighborhoods. Changes were categorized into the following: improvement vs. no change or worsening over the three-year time-period. Multivariable linear regression was used to measure the association between perceived improvement in each of the neighborhood characteristics with cardiometabolic outcomes (BMI, SBP, DBP, HbA1c, HDL-c) that were assessed in 2016, and compared with those who perceived no change or worsening of neighborhood characteristics. Models were adjusted for age, sex, income, education, marital status, physical function, neighborhood, and years spent in neighborhood. To examine potential sex differences, follow-up models were conducted and stratified by sex.


Among the 622 individuals who remained in the same neighborhood during the time period, 93% were African American, 80% were female, and the mean age was 58 years. In covariate-adjusted models, those who perceived improvement in their neighborhood safety over the time period had a significantly higher BMI (kg/m2) than those who perceived no improvement or worsening (β=1.5, p=0.0162); however, perceived improvement in safety was also significantly associated with lower SBP (mmHg) (β= –3.8, p=0.0361). When results were stratified by sex, the relationship between improved perceived neighborhood safety and BMI was only evident in females.


These findings suggest that perceived neighborhood characteristics may impact cardiometabolic outcomes (BMI, SBP), but through differing pathways. This highlights the complexity of the associations between neighborhood characteristics and underscores the need for more longitudinal studies to confirm the associations with cardiometabolic health in African American populations.

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