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The present study examined the relationship among neighborhood characteristics, obesity, and the mental health outcomes of a nationally representative sample of African-American adolescent girls between the ages of 12 - 17. Using data from the 2011/2012 National Survey of Children’s Health, four questions were extracted to measure neighborhood amenities, neighborhood detractors, body mass index, and experience of depression. Ordinal regressions were calculated to estimate the relationships between all variables. The results indicated that over 25% of African- American girls, ages 12 - 14 were overweight and obese with fewer 15 - 17-year-old girls falling within these categories. African-American girls had access to fewer amenities in their communities while at the same time being exposed to more detracting elements within their neighborhoods. Finally over 25% of parents or caregivers reported that girls ages 12 - 17 expressed being depressed in the last 12 months and depression was found to be related to obesity. Overall, African-American adolescent girls tended to live in communities with fewer resources and were at greater risk for being overweight and obese and having poorer mental health outcomes than their white peers. They were also the least likely to receive mental health services. In addition, access to neighborhood amenities had been shown to lead to better health outcomes. Given the positive relationship between neighborhood amenities, access to quality healthcare and health outcomes, local, state, and federal governments should continue to advocate for the provision of resources to communities with a substantial number of detracting elements so as to reduce the health disparities within the community. In addition, psychologists and other health providers should continue to advocate for mental health services for African-American girls who are the least likely to receive them.


This article was originally published in Open Journal of Social Sciences, available at DOI: 10.4236/jss.2016.412012.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution International Licese (CC BY 4.0).



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