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Neighborhood built environment and income: Examining multiple health outcomes


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  • Sallis, James F.
  • Saelens, Brian E.
  • Frank, Lawrence D.
  • Conway, Terry L.
  • Slymen, Donald J.
  • Cain, Kelli L.
  • Chapman, James E.
  • Kerr, Jacqueline
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    There is growing interest in the relation of built environments to physical activity, obesity, and other health outcomes. The purpose of the present study was to test associations of neighborhood built environment and median income to multiple health outcomes and examine whether associations are similar for low- and high-income groups. This was a cross-sectional study of 32 neighborhoods in Seattle, WA and Baltimore, MD regions, stratified by income and walkability, and conducted between 2001 and 2005. Participants were adults aged 20-65 years (n = 2199; 26% ethnic minority). The main outcomes were daily minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) from accelerometer monitoring, body mass index (BMI) based on self-report, and mental and physical quality of life (QoL) assessed with the SF-12. We found that MVPA was higher in high- vs. low-walkability neighborhoods but did not differ by neighborhood income. Overweight/obesity (BMI >=25) was lower in high-walkability neighborhoods. Physical QoL was higher in high-income neighborhoods but unrelated to walkability. Adjustment for neighborhood self-selection produced minor changes. We concluded that living in walkable neighborhoods was associated with more physical activity and lower overweight/obesity but not with other benefits. Lower- and higher-income groups benefited similarly from living in high-walkability neighborhoods. Adults in higher-income neighborhoods had lower BMI and higher physical QoL.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Social Science & Medicine.

    Volume (Year): 68 (2009)
    Issue (Month): 7 (April)
    Pages: 1285-1293

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    Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:68:y:2009:i:7:p:1285-1293

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    Keywords: Obesity Physical activity Built environment Health disparities USA Quality of life (QoL) Neighborhood Walkability;


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    Cited by:
    1. De Meester, Femke & Van Dyck, Delfien & De Bourdeaudhuij, Ilse & Deforche, Benedicte & Cardon, Greet, 2013. "Do psychosocial factors moderate the association between neighborhood walkability and adolescents' physical activity?," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 81(C), pages 1-9.
    2. Jacobson, Sheldon H. & King, Douglas M. & Yuan, Rong, 2011. "A note on the relationship between obesity and driving," Transport Policy, Elsevier, vol. 18(5), pages 772-776, September.
    3. Johnston, D.W.; & Lordan, G.;, 2012. "My body is fat and my wallet is thin: The link between weight perceptions, weight control and income," Health, Econometrics and Data Group (HEDG) Working Papers 12/27, HEDG, c/o Department of Economics, University of York.
    4. King, Abby C. & Sallis, James F. & Frank, Lawrence D. & Saelens, Brian E. & Cain, Kelli & Conway, Terry L. & Chapman, James E. & Ahn, David K. & Kerr, Jacqueline, 2011. "Aging in neighborhoods differing in walkability and income: Associations with physical activity and obesity in older adults," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 73(10), pages 1525-1533.
    5. Johnston, David W. & Lordan, Grace, 2014. "Weight perceptions, weight control and income: An analysis using British data," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 12(C), pages 132-139.
    6. Van Dyck, Delfien & Cerin, Ester & Conway, Terry L. & De Bourdeaudhuij, Ilse & Owen, Neville & Kerr, Jacqueline & Cardon, Greet & Frank, Lawrence D. & Saelens, Brian E. & Sallis, James F., 2012. "Associations between perceived neighborhood environmental attributes and adults’ sedentary behavior: Findings from the USA, Australia and Belgium," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 74(9), pages 1375-1384.
    7. Hoehner, Christine M. & Handy, Susan L. & Yan, Yan & Blair, Steven N. & Berrigan, David, 2011. "Association between neighborhood walkability, cardiorespiratory fitness and body-mass index," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 73(12), pages 1707-1716.


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