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Am J Public Health. 2014 Nov;104(11):e142-9. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2014.302109. Epub 2014 Sep 11.

The relationship between neighborhood socioeconomic characteristics and physical inactivity among adolescents living in Boston, Massachusetts.

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Roman Pabayo, Angie Cradock, and Ichiro Kawachi are with the Department of Social and Behavioral Science, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, MA. Beth E. Molnar is with the Department of Health Sciences and the Institute for Urban Health Research in the Bouvé College of Health Sciences, Northeastern University, Boston.



We sought to determine whether the socioeconomic environment was associated with no participation in physical activity among adolescents in Boston, Massachusetts.


We used cross-sectional data from 1878 urban adolescents living in 38 neighborhoods who participated in the 2008 Boston Youth Survey, a biennial survey of high school students (aged 14-19 years). We used multilevel multiple regression models to determine the association between neighborhood-level exposures of economic deprivation, social fragmentation, social cohesion, danger and disorder, and students' reports of no participation in physical activity in the previous week.


High social fragmentation within the residential neighborhood was associated with an increased likelihood of being inactive (odds ratio = 1.53; 95% confidence interval = 1.14, 2.05). No other neighborhood exposures were associated with physical inactivity.


Social fragmentation might be an important correlate of physical inactivity among youths living in urban settings. Interventions might be needed to assist youths living in unstable neighborhoods to be physically active.

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