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April Y. Oh, Erin Hennessy, Kate E. McSpadden and Frank M. Perna

Purpose:

This study examines the relationship between state laws for physical education and neighborhood amenities for physical activity on weight status in adolescents of low socioeconomic status.

Methods:

Data from 2 national data sources: Classification of Laws Associated with School Students (CLASS) and the National Survey of Children’s Health (NSCH) were combined and analyzed.

Results:

Multinomial regression models found that adolescents in states with strong PE law were associated with a lower odds of being obese [OR = 0.63 (0.41, 0.97)]; however, when PE law and neighborhood amenities were included, only neighborhood amenities were associated with lower odds of obesity, but also greater odds of overweight status.

Conclusion:

This study emphasizes the potential significance of state laws on low SES groups to combat obesity; as well as the potential differential effects of local level factors, and alignment with policy goals for healthy weight.

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M. Renée Umstattd, Stephanie L. Baller, Erin Hennessy, David Hartley, Christina D. Economos, Raymond R. Hyatt, Anush Yousefian and Jeffrey S. Hallam

Background:

Evidence supports the role of physical and social environments in active living, including perception of environment. However, measurement of perceived environments in rural settings is lacking. This study describes the development of the Rural Active Living Perceived Environmental Support Scale (RALPESS).

Methods:

Premised on social ecological and cognitive perspectives, 85 initial items were generated through a literature review and a mixed-methods investigation of “activity-friendly” environments. Items were organized by resource areas—town center, indoor and outdoor physical activity areas, schools, churches, and areas around the home/neighborhood—and submitted for expert panel review. In 2009, a revised questionnaire was disseminated to adolescents, parents, public school staff, and older adults in 2 rural southeastern United States counties. Principal component analysis with varimax rotation was used to explore factor structure (n = 542).

Results:

The final analysis yielded 33 items with 7 factors: 1) church facilities, 2) town center connectivity, 3) indoor areas, 4) around the home/neighborhood, 5) town center physical activity resources, 6) school grounds, and 7) outdoor areas.

Conclusions:

The RALPESS is a valid, internally consistent, and practically useful instrument to measure perceptions of rural environments in the context of physical activity across the lifespan. Confirmatory factor analysis is recommended to validate factor structure.