Park Access among School-Age Youth in the United States

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Carmen D. Harris
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Prabasaj Paul
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Xingyou Zhang
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Janet E. Fulton
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Background:

Fewer than 30% of U.S. youth meet the recommendation to be active > 60 minutes/day. Access to parks may encourage higher levels of physical activity.

Purpose:

To examine differences in park access among U.S. school-age youth, by demographic characteristics and urbanicity of block group.

Methods:

Park data from 2012 were obtained from TomTom, Incorporated. Population data were obtained from the 2010 U.S. Census and American Community Survey 2006–2010. Using a park access score for each block group based on the number of national, state or local parks within one-half mile, we examined park access among youth by majority race/ethnicity, median household income, median education, and urbanicity of block groups.

Results:

Overall, 61.3% of school-age youth had park access—64.3% in urban, 36.5% in large rural, 37.8% in small rural, and 35.8% in isolated block groups. Park access was higher among youth in block groups with higher median household income and higher median education.

Conclusion:

Urban youth are more likely to have park access. However, park access also varies by race/ethnicity, median education, and median household. Considering both the demographics and urbanicity may lead to better characterization of park access and its association with physical activity among youth.

Harris, Paul (vig5@cdc.gov), and Fulton are with the Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA. Young is with the Division of Health Studies, Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, Atlanta, GA. Zhang is with the Division of Population Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,Atlanta, GA.

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