The Role of Landscape Spatial Patterns on Childhood Obesity and Quality of Life: A Study of Hispanic Children in Inner-City Neighborhoods



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title



This research examines the associations between landscape spatial patterns of urban forests, health-related quality of life (HRQOL), and obesity (captured by body mass index, BMI) among Hispanic children living in Houston's inner city neighborhoods. One hundred 4th and 5th grade children and their mothers were recruited from five elementary schools. Children's BMI values were calculated from objectively measured height and weight. Children were surveyed about their environmental perceptions, physical activity, and socio-demographic factors. In addition, both the children and their mothers completed the PedsQL survey to measure the children's HRQOL. Using high-resolution Digital Orthophoto Quarter Quadrangle (DOQQ) aerial photo imagery, landscape spatial patterns of urban forests were measured by Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and remote sensing. FRAGSTATS was used to compute various landscape indices for areas within a half-mile and a quarter-mile from each child's home, using both airline and network distances. Multiple regression models were used to predict the children's BMI and HRQOL. Four groups of independent variables were examined: landscape indices, socio-demographic variables, physical activity, and environmental perceptions and satisfaction (factor variables). Separate models were estimated using the GIS variables captured at different spatial extents including a half-mile and quarter-mile airline buffer, and a half-mile and quarter-mile network buffer. This research showed that several landscape indices were significantly correlated with the children's BMI and HRQOL. Well-connected landscape spatial patterns and more tree patches (disaggregated landscape patterns) in a half-mile airline buffer from the subjects' homes were negatively associated with the children's BMI. Less fragmented landscape spatial conditions and larger areas of urban forests and tree patches showed positive associations with the children's HRQOL. This research adds to the current multi-disciplinary area of research on environment-health relationships, by investigating the roles of urban greeneries and linking their spatial structure to children's obesity and quality of life.