Moran, Mika, R. Goldblatt, P. Plaut, R. Endevelt, and O. Baron-Epel. “The Socioeconomic and Spatial Dimensions of Adolescent Overweight and Obesity: The Case of Arab and Jewish Towns in Israel.” Journal of Environment and Health Sciences (early view; online first).
Childhood and adolescent overweight/obesity is a major burden on public health worldwide. A growing body of empirical evidence highlights the impact of community characteristics of childhood obesity. This study explored socioeconomic and spatial variations of adolescent overweight/obesity in Israel by using an ecological approach. Towns’ socioeconomic and spatial characteristics were found associated with adolescent overweight/obesity in opposite directions in Jewish and Arab towns. Adolescent overweight/obesity was found to be more prevalent in Jewish towns characterized by lower socioeconomic rank (SER) and higher peripherality levels and in Arab towns characterized by higher SER and lower peripheraliy levels. Additionally, inequalities were found to be positively related to adolescent overweight/obesity in Jewish towns. After adjusting for SER, the associations between peripherality and adolescent overweight/obesity were attuned in Jewish towns, but not in Arab towns. These findings correspond with the literature, as the results obtained for the Jewish and Arab towns are consistent with studies conducted in developed and in developing countries, respectively. Therefore, the findings highlight the importance of macro level factors enhancing obesity, and suggest that national policy may benefit from town-level interventions addressing adolescent overweight/ obesity. Several explanations to the study’s findings are discussed, involving social, environmental and individual factors.