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Walkable Communities and Adolescent Weight

Slater SJ, Nicholson L, Chriqui J, Barker DC, Chaloupka FJ, and Johnston LD. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 44(2):164–168, 2013.

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 (AOR 0.98, 95% CI=0.95, 0.99) or obese (AOR=0.97, 95% CI=0.95, 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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