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Prev Med. 2004 Jan;38(1):39-47.

Perceptions about the local neighborhood and walking and cycling among children.

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Centre for Physical Activity and Nutrition Research, School of Health Sciences, Deakin University, Burwood VIC 3125, Australia.



This study examined associations between perceptions of the local neighborhood and walking and cycling among children.


Children aged 5-6 years (n=291) and 10-12 years (n=919) were recruited from 19 Australian primary schools. Parents reported their child's usual walking or cycling to local destinations and their perceptions of their neighborhood. Ten- to twelve-year-olds were asked their perceptions of traffic, strangers, road safety and sporting venues, and their perceptions of their parent's views on these issues.


Five- to six-year-old boys whose parents believed there was heavy traffic in their area were 2.8 times more likely (95%CI=1.1-6.8), and 5- to 6-year-old girls whose parents owned more than one car were 70% less likely (95%CI=0.1-0.8), and whose parents believed that public transport was limited in their area were 60% less likely (95%CI=0.2-0.9) than other children to walk or cycle at least three times per week. Parental belief that there were no lights or crossings was associated with walking or cycling among 10- to 12-year-old boys (OR=0.4, 95%CI=0.2-0.7). Among older girls, parent's belief that their child needed to cross several roads to reach play areas (OR=0.4, 95%CI=0.2-0.8) and that there is limited public transport in their area (OR=0.7, 95%CI=0.4-0.97), and child's belief that there were no parks or sports grounds near home (OR=0.5, 95%CI=0.3-0.8) were associated with a lower likelihood of walking or cycling.


Perceptions of the local neighborhood may influence children's physical activity.

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