Neighborhood Influences on Cardiometabolic and Sexual Health Among Hispanic and Black Adolescent Girls

Li Niu, Fordham University


Adolescence is a period of rapid physical growth and sexual maturation, and builds important foundations for life-long health. Studies have linked neighborhood structural, social, and physical characteristics to cardiometabolic and sexual health in adolescents and young adults; however, limited research has simultaneously evaluated how these three dimensions of neighborhood characteristics distribute across geographic areas and impact health trajectories across adolescence. Guided by ecological models and sociological models, this study aimed to identify distinct neighborhood profiles patterned by key structural, physical, and social characteristics and assess how they predict the trajectory of cardiometabolic and sexual health among female adolescents and young adults. Participants were 1,328 predominately Hispanic and Black girls (13-22 years), enrolled in the Mount Sinai Adolescent Study on HPV. Participants completed a study visit every six months for two years, during which their cardiometabolic health (BMI, systolic blood pressure, diastolic blood pressure) and sexual health (pregnancy, STI) were assessed. A comprehensive set of neighborhood structural, physical, and social variables were extracted from national and state- level datasets, and then linked to each participant based on baseline home address. Latent profile analysis revealed five distinct neighborhood profiles in New York City: High Structural/High Social Advantage, Moderate Advantage, Low SES/High Activity, Low SES/High Social Advantage, and High Disadvantage profiles. Multilevel growth curve analysis revealed that Low SES/High Activity neighborhoods were associated with lower BMI at age 22 (as well as a lower increase in BMI over time), and lower systolic blood pressure at age 22, compared to High Disadvantage neighborhoods. Living in Low SES/High Social Advantage neighborhoods was associated with lower risk for pregnancy, and living in Low SES/High Activity neighborhoods was associated with lower risk for pregnancy, compared to the High Disadvantage profile. However, the other neighborhood profiles were not different from the High Disadvantage profile in the risk for cardiometabolic or sexual health. Findings suggest that improving neighborhood structural, social, and physical environments may help promote cardiometabolic and sexual health and reduce health disparities across adolescence. Future research should focus on developing strong theoretical framework, advanced statistical models, and rigorous study design to unpack mechanisms linking neighborhood environment to health.

Subject Area

Developmental psychology

Recommended Citation

Niu, Li, "Neighborhood Influences on Cardiometabolic and Sexual Health Among Hispanic and Black Adolescent Girls" (2020). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI27835381.