Associations of perceived neighbourhood safety from traffic and crime with overweight/ obesity among South African adults of low socioeconomic status
De Villiers, Anniza
Lambert, Estelle V.
Kengne, Andre P.
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BACKGROUND The relationship between perceived neighbourhood safety from traffic and crime with overweight/ obesity can provide intervention modalities for obesity, yet no relevant study has been conducted in sub-Saharan African contexts. We investigated the association between perceived neighbourhood safety from traffic and crime with overweight/obesity among urban South African adults. METHODS This cross-sectional study included 354 adults aged ~35 years drawn from the Prospective Urban Rural Epidemiology (PURE) cohort study. The Neighborhood Walkability Scale- Africa (NEWS-A) was used to evaluate the perceived neighbourhood safety. Adjusted odds ratios (ORs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) were calculated to examine the associations between perceived neighborhood safety and overweight/obesity defined “normal weight” and “overweight/obese” using the 25 Kg/m2 cutoff criterion. RESULTS In the overall sample, adults who agreed that “the speed of traffic on most nearby roads in their neighborhood was usually slow” were less likely to be overweight/obese (adjusted OR = 0.42; 95%CI 0.23–0.76). Those who agreed that “there was too much crime in their neighborhood to go outside for walks or play during the day” were more likely to be overweight/ obese (OR = 2.41; 1.09–5.29). These associations were driven by significant associations in women, and no association in men, with significant statistical interactions. CONCLUSION Perceived neighborhood safety from traffic and crime was associated with overweight/obesity among South African adults. Our findings provide preliminary evidence on the need to secure safer environments for walkability. Future work should also consider perceptions of the neighbourhood related to food choice.