IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

Neighborhood built environment and income: Examining multiple health outcomes


  • Sallis, James F.
  • Saelens, Brian E.
  • Frank, Lawrence D.
  • Conway, Terry L.
  • Slymen, Donald J.
  • Cain, Kelli L.
  • Chapman, James E.
  • Kerr, Jacqueline


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.

Suggested Citation

  • Sallis, James F. & Saelens, Brian E. & Frank, Lawrence D. & Conway, Terry L. & Slymen, Donald J. & Cain, Kelli L. & Chapman, James E. & Kerr, Jacqueline, 2009. "Neighborhood built environment and income: Examining multiple health outcomes," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 68(7), pages 1285-1293, April.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:68:y:2009:i:7:p:1285-1293

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: Full text for ScienceDirect subscribers only

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Jonathan Levine & Lawrence Frank, 2007. "Transportation and land-use preferences and residents’ neighborhood choices: the sufficiency of compact development in the Atlanta region," Transportation, Springer, vol. 34(2), pages 255-274, March.
    2. Patricia L. Mokhtarian & Michael N. Bagley, 2002. "The impact of residential neighborhood type on travel behavior: A structural equations modeling approach," The Annals of Regional Science, Springer;Western Regional Science Association, vol. 36(2), pages 279-297.
    3. Frank, Lawrence Douglas & Saelens, Brian E. & Powell, Ken E. & Chapman, James E., 2007. "Stepping towards causation: Do built environments or neighborhood and travel preferences explain physical activity, driving, and obesity?," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 65(9), pages 1898-1914, November.
    4. repec:aph:ajpbhl:2003:93:9:1552-1558_1 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Eid, Jean & Overman, Henry G. & Puga, Diego & Turner, Matthew A., 2008. "Fat city: Questioning the relationship between urban sprawl and obesity," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 63(2), pages 385-404, March.
    6. Handy, Susan L & Mokhtarian, Patricia L. & Cao, Xinyu, 2008. "The Causal Influence of Neighborhood Design on Physical Activity Within the Neighborhood: Evidence from Northern California," University of California Transportation Center, Working Papers qt3vp1d82d, University of California Transportation Center.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. repec:eee:socmed:v:200:y:2018:i:c:p:27-35 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Rode, Philipp & Floater, Graham & Thomopoulos, Nikolas & Docherty, James & Schwinger, Peter & Mahendra, Anjali & Fang, Wanli, 2014. "Accessibility in cities: transport and urban form," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 60477, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    3. repec:gam:jsusta:v:9:y:2017:i:7:p:1233-:d:104568 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. 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.
    5. Masayoshi Oka, 2015. "Measuring a neighborhood affluence-deprivation continuum in urban settings: Descriptive findings from four US cities," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 32(54), pages 1469-1486, June.
    6. Cutts, Bethany B. & Darby, Kate J. & Boone, Christopher G. & Brewis, Alexandra, 2009. "City structure, obesity, and environmental justice: An integrated analysis of physical and social barriers to walkable streets and park access," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 69(9), pages 1314-1322, November.
    7. 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.
    8. 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.
    9. Gerlinde Grasser & Delfien Dyck & Sylvia Titze & Willibald Stronegger, 2013. "Objectively measured walkability and active transport and weight-related outcomes in adults: a systematic review," International Journal of Public Health, Springer;Swiss School of Public Health (SSPH+), vol. 58(4), pages 615-625, August.
    10. Ivory, Vivienne C. & Russell, Marie & Witten, Karen & Hooper, Carolyn M. & Pearce, Jamie & Blakely, Tony, 2015. "What shape is your neighbourhood? Investigating the micro geographies of physical activity," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 133(C), pages 313-321.
    11. Danan Gu & Haiyan Zhu & Ming Wen, 2015. "Neighborhood-health links: Differences between rural-to-urban migrants and natives in Shanghai," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 33(17), pages 499-524, September.
    12. 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.
    13. repec:eee:socmed:v:195:y:2017:i:c:p:17-24 is not listed on IDEAS
    14. 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.
    15. 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.
    16. Lei, Lei, 2017. "The impact of community context on children's health and nutritional status in China," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 179(C), pages 172-181.
    17. repec:kap:jgeosy:v:19:y:2017:i:2:d:10.1007_s10109-017-0245-2 is not listed on IDEAS
    18. 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.
    19. Kenneth Joh & Sandip Chakrabarti & Marlon G. Boarnet & Ayoung Woo, 2015. "The Walking Renaissance: A Longitudinal Analysis of Walking Travel in the Greater Los Angeles Area, USA," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 7(7), pages 1-27, July.
    20. Sundquist, Kristina & Eriksson, Ulf & Kawakami, Naomi & Skog, Lars & Ohlsson, Henrik & Arvidsson, Daniel, 2011. "Neighborhood walkability, physical activity, and walking behavior: The Swedish Neighborhood and Physical Activity (SNAP) study," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 72(8), pages 1266-1273, April.
    21. Winters, Meghan & Voss, Christine & Ashe, Maureen C. & Gutteridge, Kaitlyn & McKay, Heather & Sims-Gould, Joanie, 2015. "Where do they go and how do they get there? Older adults' travel behaviour in a highly walkable environment," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 133(C), pages 304-312.
    22. Floater, Graham & Rode, Philipp & Robert, Alexis & Kennedy, Chris & Hoornweg, Dan & Slavcheva, Roxana & Godfrey, Nick, 2014. "Cities and the New Climate Economy: the transformative role of global urban growth," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 60775, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    23. repec:hrv:faseco:33950780 is not listed on IDEAS


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:68:y:2009:i:7:p:1285-1293. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Dana Niculescu). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.