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BACKGROUND: The aim of this study was to determine the associations between body size and built environment walkability variables, as well as the mediating role of physical activity and sedentary behaviours with body size.
METHODS: Objective environment, body size (body mass index (BMI), waist circumference (WC)), and sedentary time and physical activity data were collected from a random selection of 2033 adults aged 20-65 years living in 48 neighbourhoods across four New Zealand cities. Multilevel regression models were calculated for each comparison between body size outcome and built environment exposure.
RESULTS AND DISCUSSION: Street connectivity and neighborhood destination accessibility were significant predictors of body size (1 SDchange predicted a 1.27 to 1.41 % reduction in BMI and a 1.76 to 2.29 % reduction in WC). Significantrelationships were also observed for streetscape (1 SD change predicted a 1.33 % reduction in BMI) anddwelling density (1 SD change predicted a 1.97 % reduction in BMI). Mediation analyses revealed asignificant mediating effect of physical activity on the relationships between body size and street connectivity and neighbourhood destination accessibility (explaining between 10.4 and 14.6 % of the total effect). No significant mediating effect of sedentary behaviour was found. Findings from this cross-sectional study of a random selection of New Zealand adults are consistent with international research. Findings are limited to individual environment features only; conclusions cannot be drawn about the cumulative and combined effect of individual features on outcomes.
CONCLUSIONS: Built environment features were associated with body size in the expected directions. Objectively-assessed physical activity mediated observed built environment-body size relationships.