The prevalence of obesity has increased significantly in the last three decades and became an important public health concern. Evidence of weight status variability at the neighbourhood level has led researchers to look more precisely at the characteristics of local geographic areas that might influence energy balance related behaviours, giving rise to the field of the ‘neighbourhood effect’ in public health research. Among an abundant literature about neighbourhood effects and obesity, we propose a protocol for a scoping review that will aim at determining how temporal measurements of residential neighbourhood exposure, individual covariates and weight outcome are integrated in longitudinal designs.
A list of relevant citations will be obtained through a comprehensive systematic database search in Pubmed, Web of Science and Embase. The search strategy will be designed using a broad definition of neighbourhood to take into account the heterogeneity of this concept in research. Two investigators will screen titles, abstracts and entire publications using predetermined eligibility criteria yielding a list of selected publications. Data from the publications included in the scoping review will be charted according to bibliographic information, study population, exposure, outcomes and results.
To our knowledge, our protocol will yield the first scoping review regarding longitudinal designs of neighbourhood effect on obesity. Describing how longitudinal designs include temporal measurements of exposure, covariates and outcome is a necessary step in the quest to determine if or which contextual characteristics are likely to be involved in the development of obesity. Such information would bring new knowledge to complement current aetiological investigations and would contribute to enhancing resource allocation strategies for stakeholders in developing relevant interventions to prevent obesity and its negative impacts.