Methods: This secondary data analysis merged data from the 2003 and 2005 waves of the California Health Interview Survey, resulting in 713 children ages 5-11. In order to estimate separate effects of individual/household and neighborhood socioeconomic status and social cohesion/capital, logistic regression models and random effects logistic regression models were used.
Results: Our findings did not support clustering of childhood overweight by ZIP code; however, we did find a strong relationship between household level poverty and childhood overweight with the poorest children 9 times more likely to be overweight than those children in the highest income bracket. While there was no effect modification of social capital on ZIP code level socioeconomic status, it was an effect modifier between household income levels and childhood overweight.
Conclusions and Implications: This study contributed to the literature by providing evidence that household level poverty remains more predictive of childhood overweight than neighborhood level socioeconomic status. It is nonetheless important to consider how schools, communities, and neighborhoods can support the healthy development of children, including creating access to nutritious, whole foods, opportunities for recreation and exercise, and regular primary care.