The role of parents’ perceptions of the neighborhood environment in determining children’s active commuting to and from school (ACS) is understudied. This study examined the association between parents’ perceptions of neighborhood social cohesion, perceived neighborhood safety, and their children’s ACS.
This cross-sectional analysis (n = 857 from 81 elementary schools in Texas) examined baseline data from the Texas Childhood Obesity Prevention Policy Evaluation project. Participants had a mean age of 9.6 (0.6) years, and 50% were girls. Mixed effects logistic regression models were used to assess gender-stratified associations between parent’s perceived social cohesion and children’s ACS and their perception of neighborhood safety.
A positive significant association was observed between levels of perceived social cohesion and children’s ACS for boys (P = 0.047); however, an inverse significant association was observed among girls (P = 0.033). Parents of boys living in neighborhoods with medium to high social cohesion were more likely to perceive their neighborhood as safe compared with parents living in neighborhoods with low social cohesion, though nonsignificant. Perceived neighborhood safety for walking and biking was associated with greater ACS among boys (P = 0.003).
Our study findings indicate that both social and physical environments are important factors in determining ACS among boys.
Salahuddin, Nehme, Ranjit, and Hoelscher are with the Michael & Susan Dell Center for Healthy Living, the University of Texas School of Public Health Austin Regional Campus. Kim is with the Dept of Architecture and Landscape Architecture, North Dakota State University. Oluyomi is with the Dept of Environmental Sciences, Hexagon Consulting and Services, LLC, Austin, TX. Dowdy and Ory are with the Texas A&M Health Science Center School of Public Health. Lee is with the Dept of Landscape Architecture and Urban Planning, Texas A&M University.