Few studies have examined the associations among social cohesion, physical activity, and obesity in older adults. This study explored the influences of social cohesion and leisure-time physical activity on obesity in older adults, and tested whether these relationships varied by race/ethnicity and income level.
A cross-sectional analysis of adults in the 2013 National Health Interview Study (NHIS) who were over 65 years of age (N = 7714) was used. Logistic regressions were performed to examine the impacts of social cohesion and physical activity on obesity, and the relative risks (RR) were reported.
The median age was 73 years old, and 59.8% of respondents were female; 23.8% met the recommended level of moderate physical activity. Neighborhood social cohesion was not associated with obesity for older adults. Meeting the recommended level of vigorous physical activity was related to a lower probability of obesity only for older Hispanic adults (RR = 0.41, 95% CI: 0.31 to 0.50), while older adults were less likely to be obese if they met the recommended level of moderate physical activity.
Increasing the level of physical activity may profoundly reduce the probability of obesity for older adults. Moreover, the results implied the need for future physical activity interventions for minorities.
Yu is with the Dept of Public Administration, University of Central Florida, Orlando, FL.