Fitness and food environments around junior high schools in Taiwan and their association with body composition: Gender differences for recreational, reading, food and beverage exposures
School environments may contribute to adolescent behavior, reproductive physiology and body composition (BC). The Nutritional and Health Survey in Taiwan (2010) for 1458 junior high school students was geo-mapped for 30 school environs. Facilities for physical activity (fitness centers, gymnasia and sports stadiums, activity centers and parks), sedentary activities (reading material rental shops (RMRS), internet cafes) and food and beverage outlets (FBOs) were calculated as weighted numbers within 1000m of schools. Multiple linear regressions were used to predict BC variable z-scores. For boys, higher fitness center densities and, for girls, gymnasia and sports stadiums were associated with less abdominal fatness. For girls, body mass index, waist circumference (WC) and triceps skinfold thickness (TSF) were greater when RMRS density was higher as was TSF with internet café density. Where there were no FBOs, boys' WC and TSF were less with more parks, but girls were shorter and WC more adverse. With greater RMRS density and no FBOs, girls still had increased WC/Hip ratio, and less mid-arm muscle circumference. Boys' findings were more evident after considering puberty. Physical activity facilities (differently by gender), food and beverage outlets absence for boys and low reading material rental shop density for girls increase the likelihood of healthier body composition.