February 2019                                                                                                                                             

The Moderating Role of Self-Control and Financial Strain in the Relation between Exposure to the Food Environment and Obesity

Low self-control and financial strain may limit individuals’ capacity to resist temptations in the local food environment. In a recent study led by Joreintje Mackenbach and published in Environmental Research and Public Health, we investigated the moderating role of self-control and financial strain in the relation between the food environment and higher body weight. We used data from 2812 Dutch adults who participated in the population-based GLOBE study. Participants' home addresses and the location of food retailers in 2013 were mapped using GIS. The density of fast food retailers and the totality of food retailers in various buffers around the home were linked to BMI and overweight status. We observed that associations between the food environment and body weight were stronger in those experiencing low self-control or great financial strain, but the direction of these associations was unexpected; that is, the density of fast food outlets and the totality of food outlets in the local neighbourhood were negatively related to body mass index and odds of being overweight and obese, and particularly among those with low levels of self-control and greater financial strain.


Population density and blood lipid levels

As we noted in our news item below, residents of urban areas generally have higher blood lipids than those of rural areas. But because most of the studies that show this come from low- and middle income countries, that made us wonder how the relations are in high-income countries such as the Netherlands. Therefore Rosa de Groot together with the rest of the Upstream Team examined whether or not LDL cholesterol, total/HDL ratios and triglyceride levels of individuals in densely populated areas are higher than those of individuals living in less-densely populated areas. In addition we investigated the potential mediating roles of physical activity and sedentary behavior in this association. The results were just published in the International Journal of Health Geographics.

Contrary to previous findings in LMIC, no evidence was found that population density is associated with blood lipid levels in blood donors in the Netherlands or that MVPA and sedentary behavior mediate this association.


January 2019                                                                                                                                             

Does it matter, living in an urban area?

Well, that depends on the person one asks but in terms of blood lipid levels there seems to be a difference in those who reside in urban compared to rural areas. In a study just published in the BMJ Global Health we systematically reviewed the literature on built-environment characteristics and blood lipid levels. A common built-environment characteristic focus of the 50 included studied was the difference between residence in urban and rural areas in low-income and middle-income countries. The meta-analysis including 36 studies and 133.966 participants showed higher total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels, yet no difference in HDL cholesterol between urban and rural residence.

Happy new year!


A big cheers to all the Upstream Team members around the world. On to new insights, collaborations, successes (small or big), and joy in -as well as outside- your work!


We thank all the members and others who are interested for their engagement in the past year, and look forward to keep the team active.


See news items of 2018, or 2017 or 2016