OVERWEIGHT, PERCEIVED ENVIRONMENT, AND SOCIAL DEPRIVATION: A STUDY ON THE PERCEPTION OF PARENTS OR GUARDIANS

ABSTRACT Objective: To investigate parents’ or guardians’ perception of their residential proximity to food retailers, leisure areas, and spaces for physical activity according to neighborhood social deprivation, and test associations between the perceived environment and their children’s overweight. Methods: Cross-sectional study conducted with 408 children and adolescents (6- to 15-year-olds) attending public schools in a medium-sized Brazilian city. Data were collected from 2011 to 2014. A telephone interview using a structured research tool determined the presence of overweight and the walking time between the participants’ home and the places evaluated. The indicator of social deprivation adopted was the Health Vulnerability Index. Logistic regression models were constructed to predict the perception of proximity (social deprivation as an explanatory variable) and evaluate perceived environmental factors (explanatory variables) associated with overweight (outcome). Results: Residents of areas with higher social vulnerability showed a probability of perceived proximity 50 to 71% lower to supermarkets, street/produce markets, parks, recreation areas/community centers, and gyms compared to residents of less vulnerable areas. The perceived proximity to parks reduced the chance of overweight in children and adolescents in 73%, with an odds ratio (OR) of 0.27 (95%CI 0.07-0.95; p<0.05). Conclusions: The perceived environment of the residential area infrastructure might be related to neighborhood social deprivation and the presence of overweight in children and adolescents.