Mexican children often use active commuting to school (ACS). In order to maintain high levels of ACS it is important to understand correlates of ACS in this population. However, most evidence comes from high-income countries (HICs). We examined multilevel correlates of ACS in children attending public schools in 3 Mexican cities.
Information on 1191 children (grades 3 to 5) attending 26 schools was retrieved from questionnaires, neighborhood audits, and geographic information systems data. Multilevel logistic modeling was used to explore individual and environmental correlates of ACS at 400-m and 800-m buffers surrounding schools.
Individual positive correlates for ACS included age (6–8 years vs 9–11 years, odds ratio [OR] = 1.5; 6–8 years vs ≥12 years: OR = 2.1) and ≥ 6 adults at home (OR = 2.0). At the 400-m buffer, more ACS was associated with lower walkability (OR = 0.87), presence of posted speed limits (< 6% vs > 12%: OR = 0.36) and crossing aids (< 6% vs 6–20%: OR = 0.25; > 20%: OR = 0.26), as well as higher sidewalk availability (< 70% vs > 90%: OR = 4.5). Similar relationships with speed limits and crossing aids were observed at the 800m buffer.
Findings contrast with those reported in HICs, underscoring the importance of considering the local context when developing strategies to promote ACS. Future studies are needed to replicate these relationships and investigate the longitudinal impact of improving active transportation infrastructure and policies.