Using data from the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA), we evaluated associations of neighborhood crime and safety with changes in adiposity (body mass index (BMI) and waist circumference). MESA is a longitudinal study of cardiovascular disease among adults aged 45-84 years at baseline in 2000-2002, from 6 US sites, with follow-up for MESA participants until 2012. Data for this study were limited to Chicago, Illinois, participants in the MESA Neighborhood Ancillary Study, for whom police-recorded crime data were available, and who had complete baseline data (n = 673). We estimated associations of individual-level safety, aggregated neighborhood-level safety, and police-recorded crime with baseline levels and trajectories of BMI and waist circumference over time using linear mixed modeling with random effects. We also estimated how changes in these factors related to changes in BMI and waist circumference using econometric fixed-effects models. At baseline, greater individual-level safety was associated with more adiposity. Increasing individual- and neighborhood-level safety over time were associated with decreasing BMI over the 10-year period, with a more pronounced effect observed in women for individual-level safety and men for neighborhood-level safety. Police-recorded crime was not associated with adiposity. Neighborhood-level safety likely influences adiposity change and subsequent cardiovascular risk in multiethnic populations.
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