Open Access Open Badges Research article

School environment factors were associated with BMI among adolescents in Xi'an City, China

Ming Li12*, Michael J Dibley3 and Hong Yan2

Author Affiliations

1 Division of Health Sciences, University of South Australia, Australia

2 College of Medicine, Xi'an Jiaotong University, Xi'an, China

3 The School of Public Health, University of Sydney, Australia

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BMC Public Health 2011, 11:792  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-11-792

Published: 11 October 2011



School environment influences students' behaviours. The purpose of this research was to identify school environment factors associated with BMI.


A cross-sectional study was conducted among 1792 school-aged adolescents from 30 schools in six districts in Xi'an City in 2004. Height and weight were taken from students by trained field staff. School environment characteristics such as physical factors (school facilities, school shops and fast food outlets in school area), school curricula and policies were collected from school doctors using school environment questionnaire. School environment factors were identified in linear mixed effect models with BMI as outcome and adjusted for socio-demographic factors.


After adjusted for socio-demographic factors, BMI was associated with the availability of soft drinks at school shops, the availability and the number of western food outlet in the school vicinity. School curricula such as sports-meeting and health education session were also associated with BMI.


Urgent actions are needed to address the obesogenic elements of school environments. Community and school policy makers should make efforts for students to avoid exposure to fast food outlet in school area and soft drinks at school shops, and to improve school curricula to promote healthy behaviours.