Walkable communities and adolescent weight

Am J Prev Med. 2013 Feb;44(2):164-168. 
Authors: Slater SJ, Nicholson L, Chriqui J, Barker DC, Chaloupka FJ, Johnston LD.

Background: Neighborhood design features have been associated with health outcomes, including the prevalence of obesity.

Purpose: This study examined the association between walkability and adolescent weight in a national sample of public secondary school students and the communities in which they live.

Methods: Data were collected through student surveys and community observations between February and August 2010, and analyses were conducted in Spring 2012. The sample size was 154 communities and 11,041 students. A community walkability index and measures of the prevalence of adolescent overweight and obesity were constructed. Multivariable analyses from a cross-sectional survey of a nationally representative sample of 8th-, 10th- and 12th-grade public school students in the U.S. were run.

Results: The odds of students being overweight (OR 0.975; 95% CI=0.94, 0.99) or obese (OR 0.971; 95% CI=0.94, 0.99) decreased if they lived in communities with higher walkability index scores.

Conclusions: Results suggest that living in more-walkable communities is associated with reduced prevalence of adolescent overweight and obesity.

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