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ARS Home » Plains Area » Grand Forks, North Dakota » Grand Forks Human Nutrition Research Center » Healthy Body Weight Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #337567

Research Project: Dietary Guidelines Adherence and Healthy Body Weight Maintenance

Location: Healthy Body Weight Research

Title: The social context moderates the relationships between neighborhood safety and adolescents’ physical activities

Author
item Salvy, Sarah-jeanne - University Of Alabama
item Feda, Denise - University Of Buffalo
item Epstein, Leonard - University Of Buffalo
item Roemmich, James

Submitted to: Preventive Medicine Reports
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 4/23/2017
Publication Date: 4/26/2017
Publication URL: http://handle.nal.usda.gov/10113/5801904
Citation: Salvy, S., Feda, D.M., Epstein, L.H., Roemmich, J.N. 2017. The social context moderates the relationships between neighborhood safety and adolescents’ physical activities. Preventive Medicine Reports. 6:355-360.

Interpretive Summary: Adolescent’s perception of the safeness of their neighborhoods may determine how much they choose to be physically active of sedentary. How much time they spend with peers or friends may change whether they choose to be active in their neighborhoods. Scientists at the Grand Forks Human Nutrition Research Center found that physical activity was more strongly influenced by neighborhood safety among adolescents who reported spending less time with peers and friends than among those who reported frequent peer interactions. Among youths who perceived that their neighborhoods were safer, spending more time with friends and peers was related to greater engagement in sedentary activities, whereas this was not the case among adolescents who perceived that their neighborhoods were less safe. Thus, time spent with peers changes the relationship between perceived neighborhood safety and adolescents’ physical activity and sedentary behavior. When an adolescent has a friend to hang out, it may decrease feelings of vulnerability and concerns of safety.

Technical Abstract: Background. Previous studies of neighborhood safety and physical (in)activity have typically neglected to consider the youth’s peer context as a modifier of these relationships. Objective. Test the independent and interactive effects of perceived neighborhood safety and time spent with friends and peers on young adolescents’ physical activity and sedentary behavior. Methods. Participants (N=80; ages 13-17) completed the Pedestrian/Traffic Safety and Crime Safety subscales of the adolescent version of the Neighborhood Environment Walkability scale (NEWS). An experience sampling methodology was used to assess sedentary behaviors/screen time and the social context in which physical activity and sedentary time/behavior occurred. Physical activity was assessed via accelerometry. Multilevel models were used to estimate the relationships between predictors (neighborhood safety and social context) and outcomes (physical activity and sedentary time/behavior). Results. Frequency of peer/friends interactions moderated the relationships between neighborhood safety and adolescents’ physical activity and sedentary behavior. Specifically, physical activity was more strongly influenced by neighborhood safety among adolescents who reported spending less time with peers and friends than among those who reported frequent peer interactions. Among youths who perceived that their neighborhoods were safer, spending more time with friends and peers was related to greater engagement in sedentary activities, whereas this was not the case among adolescents who perceived that their neighborhoods were less safe. Conclusions. The peer social context moderates the relationship between perceived neighborhood safety and adolescents’ physical activity and sedentary behavior. Improving social interactions at the individual level within neighborhoods may decrease feelings of vulnerability and concerns of safety.