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Int J Pediatr Obes. 2008;3(2):109-16. doi: 10.1080/17477160701875007.

Influence of neighbourhood design and access to facilities on overweight among preschool children.

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  • 1Faculty of Physical Education and Recreation, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.



Studies of the role of the built environment in relation to obesity in young children have reported inconsistent results.


We explored the association of objective measures of neighbourhood design (dwelling density, land use mix, intersection density, availability of facilities) with the bodyweight status of 501 preschool children (girls = 262; boys = 239) residing in Edmonton, Canada.


Approximately 21% of the children were classified as overweight or at-risk of being overweight according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) growth charts, while 15% of the children were considered overweight or obese according to the International Obesity Task Force (IOTF) criteria. Controlling for measures of physical activity, junk food consumption and neighbourhood-level social class, significant interactions were found between sex of the child and walkability of the neighbourhood (composite index of dwelling density, land use mix, and intersection density) and sex of the child and intersection density regardless of the bodyweight status criteria. The odds of girls being overweight or obese were lower if they lived in walkable neighbourhoods (OR = 0.78, 95%CI, 0.66-0.91 CDC; OR = 0.73, 95%CI, 0.61-0.88 IOTF) with more intersections (OR = 0.57, 95%CI, 0.39-0.86 CDC; OR = 0.48, 95%CI, 0.30-0.76 IOTF). No significant associations were observed for boys.


Thus, aspects of the built environment may differentially influence the bodyweight status of children depending upon sex.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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