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Am J Prev Med. 2016 Nov;51(5):722-730. doi: 10.1016/j.amepre.2016.04.007. Epub 2016 May 17.

Neighborhood Walkability and Adiposity in the Women's Health Initiative Cohort.

Author information

  • 1Division of Nutritional Sciences, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York.
  • 2Division of Epidemiology, Family and Preventive Medicine, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, California.
  • 3Department of Psychosocial and Community Health, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington.
  • 4Departments of Social Medicine, Medicine, and Epidemiology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
  • 5Department of Public Health Sciences, University of California, Davis, California.
  • 6Department of Nutritional Sciences, University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona.
  • 7Department of Epidemiology and Environmental Health, School of Public Health and Health Professions, State University of New York at Buffalo, Buffalo, New York.
  • 8Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts.
  • 9Department of Family Medicine and Public Health Sciences, School of Medicine, Wayne State University, Detroit, Michigan.
  • 10Department of Medicine, Stanford Prevention Research Center, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, California.
  • 11Department of Quantitative Health Sciences, University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester, Massachusetts.
  • 12Division of Nutritional Sciences, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York. Electronic address:



Neighborhood environments may play a role in the rising prevalence of obesity among older adults. However, research on built environmental correlates of obesity in this age group is limited. The current study aimed to explore associations of Walk Score, a validated measure of neighborhood walkability, with BMI and waist circumference in a large, diverse sample of older women.


This study linked cross-sectional data on 6,526 older postmenopausal women from the Women's Health Initiative Long Life Study (2012-2013) to Walk Scores for each participant's address (collected in 2012). Linear and logistic regression models were used to estimate associations of BMI and waist circumference with continuous and categorical Walk Score measures. Secondary analyses examined whether these relationships could be explained by walking expenditure or total physical activity. All analyses were conducted in 2015.


Higher Walk Score was not associated with BMI or overall obesity after adjustment for sociodemographic, medical, and lifestyle factors. However, participants in highly walkable areas had significantly lower odds of abdominal obesity (waist circumference >88 cm) as compared with those in less walkable locations. Observed associations between walkability and adiposity were partly explained by walking expenditure.


Findings suggest that neighborhood walkability is linked to abdominal adiposity, as measured by waist circumference, among older women and provide support for future longitudinal research on associations between Walk Score and adiposity in this population.

[Available on 2017-11-01]
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