State‐of‐the‐art of measures of the obesogenic environment for children

Kun Mei, Hong Huang, Fang Xia, Andy Hong, Xiang Chen, Chi Zhang, Ge Qiu, Gang Chen, Zhenfeng Wang, Chongjian Wang, Bo Yang, Qian Xiao, Peng Jia*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)
85 Downloads (Pure)


Various measures of the obesogenic environment have been proposed and used in childhood obesity research. The variety of measures poses methodological challenges to designing new research because methodological characteristics integral to developing the measures vary across studies. A systematic review has been conducted to examine the associations between different levels of obesogenic environmental measures (objective or perceived) and childhood obesity. The review includes all articles published in the Cochrane Library, PubMed, Web of Science and Scopus by 31 December 2018. A total of 339 associations in 101 studies have been identified from 18 countries, of which 78 are cross‐sectional. Overall, null associations are predominant. Among studies with non‐null associations, negative relationships between healthy food outlets in residential neighbourhoods and childhood obesity is found in seven studies; positive associations between unhealthy food outlets and childhood obesity are found in eight studies, whereas negative associations are found in three studies. Measures of recreational or physical activity facilities around the participants' home are also negatively correlated to childhood obesity in nine out of 15 studies. Results differ by the types of measurement, environmental indicators and geographic units used to characterize obesogenic environments in residential and school neighbourhoods. To improve the study quality and compare reported findings, a reporting standard for spatial epidemiological research should be adopted.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere13093
Number of pages18
JournalObesity reviews
Issue numberS1
Early online date28 Jul 2020
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2021


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