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Gregory J. Norman, Sandra K. Nutter, Sherry Ryan, James F. Sallis, Karen J. Calfas and Kevin Patrick

Background:

Neighborhood-level environmental features have been associated with adult physical activity and weight status, but this link has not been established for adolescents.

Methods:

Community design and access to recreational facilities variables were derived using geographic information systems (GIS) for 799 adolescents (age 11 to 15 y, mean = 12.8 y, 53% girls, 43% ethnic minority). Environment variables were calculated for a 1-mile buffer around each participant’s residence. Accelerometers measured min/d of physical activity.

Results:

Number of nearby recreation facilities and number of nearby parks correlated positively with girls’ physical activity, and intersection density inversely related to girls’ physical activity. Retail floor area ratio correlated positively with boys’ physical activity. No community design or access to recreation variables were related to BMI-percentile.

Conclusions:

There was limited evidence that both community design and access to recreation facilities variables were associated with adolescent physical activity, but additional built environment variables need to be studied that have particular relevance for youth.

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Kim Bergeron and Lucie Lévesque

Background:

Community design can have a positive or negative influence on the physical activity level of residents. The complementary expertise of professionals from both planning and public health is needed to build active communities. The current study aimed to develop a coordinated framework for planners and public health professionals to enhance the design of active communities.

Methods:

Planners and public health professionals working in Ontario, Canada were recruited to participate in a concept mapping process to identify ways they should work together to enhance the design of active communities.

Results:

This process generated 72 actions that represent collaborative efforts planners and public health professionals should engage in when designing active communities. These actions were then organized by importance and feasibility. This resulted in a coordinated action framework that includes 19 proximal and 6 distal coordinated actions for planners and public health professionals.

Conclusion:

Implementation of the recommended actions has the potential to make a difference in community design as a way to enhance physical activity in community members. This Coordinated Action Framework provides a way to address physical inactivity from an environmental and policy standpoint.

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Lawrence Frank, Jacqueline Kerr, Dori Rosenberg and Abby King

Background:

Suburban development patterns may impede physical activity (PA) and mobility and affect healthy aging. This paper investigates the relationships between neighborhood design and walking, driving, PA, and obesity in adults over age 65 years.

Methods:

Data from the SMARTRAQ (Atlanta region) survey provided measures of PA, BMI, SES, and travel patterns. Neighborhood design was measured using a walkability index (residential density, street connectivity, retail density, and land use mix). Chi square and regression was used to evaluate relationships.

Results:

Increased walkability was related with more walking (OR 2.02), less time spent traveling in a car (OR .53), and lower odds of being overweight (OR .68). Those with 1 or no cars were more likely to walk (OR 2.9) and spend less time in cars (OR .53); but also less likely to get recommended levels of PA (OR .55). Visiting a fast food outlet was associated with increased odds of obesity (OR 1.81).

Conclusions:

Policies are needed to bring older Americans closer to shops and services and healthy food outlets as a means of encouraging regular walking and healthy body weight. Incentives to encourage neighborhood grocery stores and affordable housing in central areas along with regulatory reform through zoning can encourage PA and healthy body weight in the elderly.

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Andrea Nathan, Lisa Wood and Billie Giles-Corti

Background:

Self-selection—whether individuals inclined to walk more seek to live in walkable environments—must be accounted for when studying built environment influences on walking. The way neighborhoods are marketed to future residents has the potential to sway residential location choice, and may consequently affect measures of self-selection related to location preferences. We assessed how walking opportunities are promoted to potential buyers, by examining walkability attributes in marketing materials for housing developments.

Methods:

A content analysis of marketing materials for 32 new housing developments in Perth, Australia was undertaken, to assess how walking was promoted in the text and pictures. Housing developments designed to be pedestrian-friendly (LDs) were compared with conventional developments (CDs).

Results:

Compared with CDs, LD marketing materials had significantly more references to ‘public transport,’ ‘small home sites,’ ‘walkable parks/open space,’ ‘ease of cycling,’ ‘safe environment,’ and ‘boardwalks.’ Other walk-ability attributes approached significance.

Conclusion:

Findings suggest the way neighborhoods are marketed may contribute to self-reported reasons for choosing particular neighborhoods, especially when attributes are not present at the time of purchase. The marketing of housing developments may be an important factor to consider when measuring self-selection, and its influence on the built environment and walking relationship.

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Courtney Coughenour and Timothy J. Bungum

Background:

Neighborhood walkability is being promoted as an important factor in public health efforts to decrease rates of physical inactivity. Single entry communities (SEC), communities with only 1 entrance/exit, may result in an over estimation of walkability. This design makes direct walking routes outside the community nearly impossible and results in increased trip distance. The purpose of this study was to determine if accounting for SECs resulted in a significant difference in street connectivity.

Methods:

Twenty geographically different Las Vegas neighborhoods were chosen and the number of true intersections measured in ArcGIS. Neighborhoods were then assessed for the presence of SECs using google maps, ArcGIS land imagery, and field observation. Intersections inside SECs were removed. A paired t test was used to assess the mean difference of intersection density before and after adjustment.

Results:

There was a statistically significant decrease in the number of true intersections after the adjustment (before mean = 57.8; after mean = 45.7). The eta squared statistic indicates a large effect size (0.3).

Conclusions:

Single entry communities result in an over estimation of street connectivity. If SECs are not accounted for, trip distances will be underestimated and public health efforts to promote walking through walkable neighborhoods may prove less effective.

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Amy I. Zlot, John Librett, David Buchner and Tom Schmid

Purpose:

This study examines environmental, transportation, social, and time barriers to physical activity.

Methods:

Survey questions from the nationally representative Greenstyles survey (N = 2181) were summed to create environmental, transportation, social, and time barrier variables. Logistic regression was used to determine if the barrier variables had a significant association with physical activity levels.

Results:

Those who have low barriers to physical activity are more likely to meet the recommended physical activity levels compared with those with medium and high barriers. In addition, transportation, social capital, and time barriers independently contributed to the low levels of physical activity.

Conclusions:

Removal of multiple barriers to physical activity may have an additive effect of increasing physical activity levels in Americans. Promoting physical activity requires strategies and research across multiple sectors to mitigate these barriers.

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Cheryl Kelly, Min Lian, Jim Struthers and Anna Kammrath

Background:

There are few studies that aimed to find a relationship between transportation-related physical activity and neighborhood socioeconomic condition using a composite deprivation index. The purpose of this study is to assess the relationship of neighborhood walkability and socioeconomic deprivation with percentage of adults walking to work.

Methods:

A walkability index and a socioeconomic deprivation index were created at block group-level. The outcome variable, percentage of adults who walk to work was dichotomized as < 5% of the block group walking to work low and ≥ 5% of the block group walking to work as high and applied logistic regression to examine the association of walkability and socioeconomic deprivation with walking to work.

Results:

Individuals in the most walkable neighborhoods are almost 5 times more likely to walk to work than individuals in the least walkable neighborhoods (OR = 4.90, 95% CI = 2.80–8.59). After adjusting for neighborhood socioeconomic deprivation, individuals in the most walkable neighborhoods are almost 3 times more likely to walk to work than individuals in the least walkable neighborhoods (OR = 2.98, 95% CI = 1.62–5.49).

Conclusions:

Walkability (as measured by the walkability index) is a very strong indicator of walking to work even after controlling for neighborhood socioeconomic disadvantage.

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Eboneé N. Butler, Anita M.H. Ambs, Jill Reedy and Heather R. Bowles

Background:

Examining relationships between features of the built environment and physical activity is achievable with geographic information systems technology (GIS). The purpose of this paper is to review the literature to identify GIS measures that can be considered for inclusion in national public health surveillance efforts. In the absence of a universally agreed upon framework that integrates physical, social, and cultural aspects of the environment, we used a multidimensional model of access to synthesize the literature.

Methods:

We identified 29 studies published between 2005 and 2009 with physical activity outcomes that included 1 or more built environment variables measured using GIS. We sorted built environment measures into 5 dimensions of access: accessibility, availability, accommodation, affordability, and acceptability.

Results:

Geospatial land-use data, street network data, environmental audits, and commercial databases can be used to measure the availability, accessibility, and accommodation dimensions of access. Affordability and acceptability measures rely on census and self-report data.

Conclusions:

GIS measures have been included in studies investigating the built environment and physical activity, although few have examined more than 1 construct of access. Systematic identification and collection of relevant GIS measures can facilitate collaboration and accelerate the advancement of research on the built environment and physical activity.

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Amy Eyler, Jamie Chriqui, Jay Maddock, Angie Cradock, Kelly R. Evenson, Jeanette Gustat, Steven Hooker, Rodney Lyn, Michelle Segar, Nancy O’Hara Tompkins and Susan G. Zieff

Background:

In the United States, health promotion efforts often begin with state-level strategic plans. Many states have obesity, nutrition, or other topic-related plans that include physical activity (PA). The purpose of this study was to assess PA content in these state plans and make recommendations for future plan development.

Methods:

Publically available plans were collected in 2010. A content analysis tool was developed based on the United States National PA Plan and included contextual information and plan content. All plans were double coded for reliability and analyzed using SPSS.

Results:

Forty-three states had a statewide plan adopted between 2002 and 2010, none of which focused solely on PA. Over 80% of PA-specific strategies included policy or environmental changes. Most plans also included traditional strategies to increase PA (eg, physical education, worksite). Few plans included a specific focus on land use/community design, parks/recreation, or transportation. Less than one-half of plans included transportation or land use/community design partners in plan development.

Conclusions:

Though the majority of states had a PA-oriented plan, comprehensiveness varied by state. Most plans lacked overarching objectives on the built environment, transportation, and land use/community design. Opportunities exist for plan revision and alignment with the National PA Plan sectors and strategies.

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Rachel A. Jones, Jacque Kelly, Dylan P. Cliff, Marijka Batterham and Anthony D. Okely

Objectives:

Single sex after-school physical activity programs show potential to prevent unhealthy weight gain. The aim of this study was to assess the acceptability and potential efficacy of single-sex after-school physical activity programs for overweight and at-risk children from low-income communities.

Design:

7-month, 2-arm parallel-group, RCT, conducted at an elementary school in a disadvantaged area in Wollongong, Australia (March-November 2010).

Methods:

20 boys and 17 girls were randomized to intervention (PA) or active comparison groups (HL). Primary outcomes included implementation, acceptability, percentage body fat and BMI z-score.

Results:

The PA programs were acceptable with high implementation and enjoyment rates. At 7 months postintervention girls in the PA group displayed greater changes in percentage body fat (adjust diff. = -1.70, [95% CI -3.25, -0.14]; d = -0.83) and BMI z-score (-0.19 [-0.36, -0.03]; d= -1.00). At 7 months boys in the PA group showed greater changes in waist circumference (-3.87 cm [-7.80, 0.15]; d= -0.90) and waist circumference z-score (-0.33 [-0.64, -0.03]; d= -0.98). For both boys’ and girls’ PA groups, changes in adiposity were not maintained at 12-month follow-up.

Conclusions:

Single-sex after-school physical activity programs are acceptable and potentially efficacious in preventing unhealthy weight gain among overweight and at-risk children. However improvements are hard to sustain once programs finish operating.