DURHAM, N.C., Dec. 22, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — Children who lived in higher opportunity or less vulnerable neighborhoods early in life had lower average body mass index (BMI) and lower risk of obesity from childhood to adolescence, according to a new study funded by the Environmental influences on Child Health Outcomes Program at the National Institutes of Health.

ECHO logo (PRNewsfoto/Environmental influences on Child Health Outcomes (ECHO) Program)

ECHO logo (PRNewsfoto/Environmental influences on Child Health Outcomes (ECHO) Program)

“This study bolsters the need for a focus on investments that address the structures that consistently compromise the health of marginalized communities,” said Izzuddin M. Aris, PhD of Harvard Medical School.

Children’s BMI and childhood obesity are significant risk factors for heart disease later in life. To understand how neighborhood-level conditions can affect a child’s risk for these health outcomes, ECHO researchers collected address and weight information from over 20,000 children from birth through 10 years old, and linked the address data to the Child Opportunity Index and Social Vulnerability Index.

In the future, neighborhood indices, such as the ones used in this study, could help inform efforts to reduce neighborhood barriers and improve access to community resources so families can better support their children’s health and well-being.

Dr. Aris led this collaborative research published in JAMA Network Open.

Aris, I. M. et al. Associations of Neighborhood Opportunity and Vulnerability with Trajectories of Child Body Mass Index and Obesity Among U.S. Children” in JAMA Network Open. DOI: 10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2022.47957

About ECHO: ECHO is a nationwide research program supported by the NIH. Launched in 2016, ECHO aims to enhance the health of children for generations to come. ECHO investigators study the effects of a broad range of early environmental influences on child health and development. For more information, visit

About the NIH: NIH, the nation’s medical research agency, includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information, visit



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SOURCE NIH Environmental influences on Child Health Outcomes (ECHO) Program

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