The Obesity and Neighborhood Environment database is a unique collection of variables derived using spatial analysis techniques within a large scale Geographic Information System (GIS) that links community-level data to individual Add Health respondent residential locations in both space and time. Community-level data include density and proximity to recreational facilities, land use patterning, population, economic, climate, and crime statistics, which are linked spatially and temporally to individual-level Add Health behavior and health outcome data.

The database provides physical, social, and economic neighborhood environment measures corresponding with Add Health respondent locations in Wave I and Wave III. Thus, they can be thought of as respondent-based neighborhood context variables, which we refer to here as neighborhood environment measures. These neighborhood environment variables can be compared to individual-level characteristics and behaviors collected in Add Health interviews and surveys.

1data_swim_award_200x267The Obesity and Neighborhood Environment database was created in response to greater focus on both natural and built environmental factors which may influence obesity and related behaviors such as physical activity and diet. While the data can be used for research questions involving economic, social, psychological, or other topics, the primary objective of the Obesity and Neighborhood Environment database was to provide neighborhood environment measures well suited for obesity-related research, thus data relate primarily to obesity and obesity-related outcomes.

For more information, please see the Obesity & Neighborhood Environment Users Guide and Codebooks. The Users Guide describes the database creation process and data considerations that may be important for analysis and interpretation.

Database Creation

The Obesity and Neighborhood Environment database was created by (1) mapping Add Health residential locations, (2) acquiring contextual data representing various aspects of the area surrounding each respondent residential location, (3) creating respondent-specific neighborhood environment measures, and (4) linking the neighborhood environment measures to individual-level interview and survey data. Each step is described in greater detail in the Obesity & Neighborhood Environment Users Guide.