Perceived and Police-Reported Neighborhood Crime: Linkages to Adolescent Activity Behaviors and Weight Status

Ann Forsyth, Melanie Wall, Tse Choo, Nicole Larson, David Van Riper, Dianne Neumark-Sztainer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Purpose Inadequate physical activity and obesity during adolescence are areas of public health concern. Questions exist about the role of neighborhoods in the etiology of these problems. This research addressed the relationships of perceived and objective reports of neighborhood crime to adolescent physical activity, screen media use, and body mass index (BMI). Methods Socioeconomically and racially/ethnically diverse adolescents (N = 2,455, 53.4% female) from 20 urban, public middle and high schools in Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota responded to a classroom survey in the Eating and Activity in Teens 2010 study. BMI was measured by research staff. Participants' mean age was 14.6 (standard deviation = 2.0); 82.7% represented racial/ethnic groups other than non-Hispanic white. Linear regressions examined associations between crime perceived by adolescents and crime reported to police and the outcomes of interest (BMI z-scores, physical activity, and screen time). Models were stratified by gender and adjusted for age, race/ethnicity, socioeconomic status, and school. Results BMI was positively associated with perceived crime among girls and boys and with reported crime in girls. For girls, there was an association between higher perceived crime and increased screen time; for boys, between higher reported property crime and reduced physical activity. Perceived crime was associated with reported crime, both property and personal, in both genders. Conclusions Few prior studies of adolescents have studied the association between both perceived and reported crime and BMI. Community-based programs for youth should consider addressing adolescents' safety concerns along with other perceived barriers to physical activity. Interventions targeting actual crime rates are also important.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)222-228
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Adolescent Health
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 1 2015

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was supported by Grant Number R01HL084064 from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (PI: Dianne Neumark-Sztainer). The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine.


  • Adolescents
  • Body mass index
  • Neighborhoods
  • Perceived and actual crime
  • Physical activity
  • Screen time


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