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Am J Public Health. 2016 May;106(5):934-40. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2016.303096. Epub 2016 Mar 17.

Neighborhood Walkability and Body Mass Index Trajectories: Longitudinal Study of Canadians.

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Rania A. Wasfi is with the Department of Geography, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec. Kaberi Dasgupta is with the Department of Medicine, Division of Internal Medicine, Clinical Epidemiology, and Endocrinology and Metabolism, McGill University. Heather Orpana is with the School of Psychology, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Ontario. Nancy A. Ross is with the Department of Geography and Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, McGill University.



To assess the impact of neighborhood walkability on body mass index (BMI) trajectories of urban Canadians.


Data are from Canada's National Population Health Survey (n = 2935; biannual assessments 1994-2006). We measured walkability with the Walk Score. We modeled body mass index (BMI, defined as weight in kilograms divided by the square of height in meters [kg/m(2)]) trajectories as a function of Walk Score and sociodemographic and behavioral covariates with growth curve models and fixed-effects regression models.


In men, BMI increased annually by an average of 0.13 kg/m(2) (95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.11, 0.14) over the 12 years of follow-up. Moving to a high-walkable neighborhood (2 or more Walk Score quartiles higher) decreased BMI trajectories for men by approximately 1 kg/m(2) (95% CI = -1.16, -0.17). Moving to a low-walkable neighborhood increased BMI for men by approximately 0.45 kg/m(2) (95% CI = 0.01, 0.89). There was no detectable influence of neighborhood walkability on body weight for women.


Our study of a large sample of urban Canadians followed for 12 years confirms that neighborhood walkability influences BMI trajectories for men, and may be influential in curtailing male age-related weight gain.

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