Perception of Neighborhood Crime and Drugs Increases Cardiometabolic Risk in Chilean Adolescents
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Purpose: Studies report an association between neighborhood risk and both obesity and cardiometabolic risk factors (CMR) among adolescents. Here we describe the effect of perceived neighborhood risk on adiposity and CMR among Chilean adolescents. Methods: Participants were 523 low- to middle-income Chilean adolescents. We assessed neighborhood risk in early adolescence, adiposity in childhood and in early and later adolescence, and blood pressure and fasting glucose in later adolescence. Neighborhood risk profiles were estimated using latent profile analysis (LPA) and based on reported perceptions of crime and drug sales/use. Using linear and logistic regression, we examined the effect of neighborhood risk on adiposity and CMR. Results: Mean age in early and later adolescence was 14 and 17 years, respectively. Participants were 52% male, with a mean BMI z-score of .67, and 8% met criteria for metabolic syndrome. LPA identified two neighborhood profiles: 61% low risk and 39% high risk. In later adolescence, being in the high risk profile predicted a higher BMI z-score, waist-to-height ratio, and fat mass index (p < .05). Adolescents in the high risk profile had three times greater odds of meeting criteria for metabolic syndrome (OR ¼ 3.1, 95% CI: 1.5, 5.8) compared with those in the low risk profile. Conclusions: Our findings suggest that there are physiological responses to living in a neighborhood perceived as “risky,” which may contribute to obesity and CMR even in adolescence. For Chilean neighborhoods with high crime and drugs, targeted public health interventions and policies for youth could be beneficial.
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