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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service


item Jago, Russell
item Baranowski, Thomas
item Zakeri, Issa
item Harris, Michael

Submitted to: Trade Journal Publication
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 8/1/2005
Publication Date: 8/1/2005
Citation: Jago, R., Baranowski, T., Zakeri, I., Harris, M. 2005. Observed environmental features and the physical activity of adolescent males. American Journal of Preventive Medicine. 29(2):98-104.

Interpretive Summary: A variety of environmental factors have been related to physical activity among adults. One study attempted to avoid the response bias problems of self report by using an instrument that measured 39 characteristics of each block within 400 meters of a respondent's home. None of this work has been done with children. This project was conducted as part of a study among Boy Scouts (11 to 14 years old). Statistical techniques reduced the 39 characteristics to four independent characteristics. Only one of these, sidewalk characteristics, was significantly related to physical activity. These findings suggest that physical characteristics of the neighborhood may not be as important an influence on children's physical activity as they are on adults'.

Technical Abstract: Background: It has recently been reported that adult physical activity was associated with environmental features. The aim of this study was to determine whether environmental features were associated with physical activity among male adolescents. Methods: Physical activity levels of 210 Boy Scouts were assessed for 3 days by accelerometry during 2003 and 2004. Mean minutes of sedentary, light, and moderate-to-vigorous intensity activity were calculated. Environmental features within a 400-meter radius of each participant's home address were assessed by direct observation using the Systematic Pedestrian and Cycling Environmental Scan (SPACES) instrument. Principal component factor analysis reduced the 35 SPACES items to four factors. Hierarchical and spatial regressions were conducted with physical activity as the dependent variable and environmental factors, age, body mass index, and ethnicity as independent variables. Results: Four factors were obtained: walking/cycling ease, tidiness, sidewalk characteristics, and street access and condition. Sidewalk characteristics were negatively associated with minutes of sedentary behavior, while age was positively associated. Sidewalk characteristics were positively associated with minutes of light-intensity physical activity, and age negatively associated. No environmental factor correlated with moderate-to-vigorous physical activity. Conclusions: A sidewalk characteristics factor, composed of sidewalk location, sidewalk material, presence of streetlights, and number and height of trees, was positively associated with light-intensity physical activity among male adolescents.

Last Modified: 06/27/2017
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