Obesity Intervention Strategies and the Built Environment in Durham, North Carolina
Authors: Kelly Henderson and Pamela Maxson
Abstract: The growing trend of childhood obesity has been a leading public health issue in recent years. Many previous childhood obesity interventions have targeted aspects of the school setting without finding significant results. More recently, the literature has suggested that specific environmental characteristics may be influential in determining overweight status. This project aimed to investigate the built environment of central Durham neighborhoods in order to assess food and physical activity environments and how they may influence childhood overweight. A community assessment was conducted using a tool that is supported by an ArcGIS platform. The data suggested that the availability of convenience stores and fast food restaurants dominated the food environment and the park space was limited in size and allocated disproportionately among neighborhoods. The lack of abundant food sources offering healthy options and limited park space and usable sidewalks in the central Durham neighborhoods may influence a child’s diet and level of physical activity. This work provides an objective documentation of built environment variables in the Durham urban setting to community leaders, government officials, and physicians in order to address childhood obesity at both a community wide and individual level.