Watts Neighborhood Health Study


The Watts Neighborhood Health Study (WNHS) is a longitudinal research study looking at the effects of neighborhood built and social environments on obesity for low-income, urban populations. To study the causality of these effects, the WNHS collects data from residents at the Jordan Downs (JD) public housing project as well as two control public housing sites in the Watts neighborhood of Los Angeles. This study is generously funded by grants from the National Cancer Institute, as well as the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Center for Child Health and Human Development


About the Jordan Downs Redevelopment

Unlike other studies looking at the relationship between neighborhood and obesity, the WNHS uses a natural experiment design to examine how changes to the environment impact obesogenic behaviors and outcomes. As part of a five-year, 1 billion dollar project funded by the city of Los Angeles, the JD public housing project will be redeveloped to include the following: 

  1. 700 new units for existing residents
  2. 700 new units for new, mixed-income housing residents
  3. A new community center with a gymnasium 
  4. A retail space that will offer healthy eating opportunities 
  5. Green space that will increase opportunities for physical activity
  6. Additional built environment enhancements that will promote physical activity and healthy eating (i.e. walking and bike lanes, street lighting). 

By studying the behaviors and health outcomes of residents prior to this redevelopment, as well as following each cohort of residents after they have experienced the redevelopment changes, the WNHS can explore how direct, neighborhood environments, impact obesogenic outcomes. 

To learn more about the JD redevelopment project, please visit the following sites: 

LA Business Journal: $1 Billion Overhaul Underway For Jordan Downs Complex in Watts

Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles: Jordan Downs Relocation Plan