Association between physical food environment and weight status of NYS public school students
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The prevalence of obesity has become a great public health concern in the United States. Food environment is one contextual driver that has been widely discussed. According to previous research, disparities in childhood obesity may be associated with differences in food environment alongside socioeconomic factors. This research examined whether food environment is associated with the obesity rates of students from public schools in New York State at the school district level. The semantic heterogeneity of food outlets and weight status are highlighted first to establish a clear definition of the problem. Next, the conceptualization of complex food environments and representation of these environments with various measures are discussed. The principles and different forms of multiple regression models are introduced. Unhealthy eating causes an energy imbalance that ultimately leads to obesity. Spatial interaction theory, which can be applied to predict patronage behaviors, is introduced. Multi-sourced data for this empirical study are introduced and analyses are applied. The results show no significant association between physical food environment variables and obesity rates at the school district level. The models all explains more than thirty-eight percent of the variation. For those independent variables, the measure of poverty has more contribution to explanation than two food environment variables. A large portion of the variation in obesity rates can be explained by poverty than by food environments. Corresponding discussions regarding representations, aggregation bias, and spatial weights are presented.