2014 - Research

Characteristics of Walkable Built Environments and BMI Z-Scores in Children

Evidence from a Large Electronic Health Record Database

KEY TAKEAWAY:

Walkable built environment characteristics were associated with lower BMI z-scores (i.e., BMI compared to normal growth curves) among children.

RESULTS:

  • Children in neighborhoods with fewer recreational open spaces and less residential density, high traffic density, sidewalk completeness, and intersection density, and less land use mix had higher BMI z-scores.
  • Neighborhoods with fewer recreational open spaces and less residential density, traffic density, sidewalk completeness, and intersection density were associated with higher BMI z-scores at one time point and increased BMI z-scores over time. Living in areas with less land use mix was also associated with higher BMI z-scores.
  • No associations were found between local speed limits and BMI z-scores.

METHODS:

  • BMI scores from electronic health records at pediatric practices in Massachusetts were combined with GIS characterizations of the built environment. BMI data was gathered at two time points to examine change over time. This study design provides information about correlations but does not allow conclusions about causality.

Duncan, D.T., Sharifi, M., Melly, S.J., Marshall, R., Sequist, T.D., Rifas-Shiman, S.L., Taveras, E.M. (2014). Characteristics of Walkable Built Environments and BMI z-Scores in Children: Evidence from a Large Electronic Health Record Database. Environmental Health Perspectives, 122 (12), 1359-1365.

Authored by: 
Duncan D.T.
Sharifi M.
Melly S.J.
Marshall R.
Sequist T.D.
Rifas-Shiman S.L.
Taveras E.M.