Global prevalence of obesity and overweight has rapidly increased over the past few decades. The relative growth rate of the epidemic, particularly in more developed countries, has triggered efforts to explore environmental determinants of weight gain. Research on how the built environment affects weight gain, and health more broadly, has been widely undertaken by public health, epidemiology, and geography disciplines, yet no clear relationships have been identified. Moreover, research on the Canadian context is generally lacking. Methods native to Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and spatial epidemiology may prove effective to furthering contemporary knowledge of the built environment determinants of obesity, and overall, contribute to wider disciplines involved. The first paper of this thesis reviews literature from the spatial epidemiology discipline to glean insight from recent methodological development of spatial clustering tools and provide guidelines for practical application. The second paper explores the spatial clustering of obesity and examines the built environment for potential correlates. Both papers take a unique perspective within the respected disciplines they are informing, and thus provide novel results for future research and development.
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Thesis advisor: Schuurman, Nadine
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