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Neighborhood walkability and body mass index trajectories: Longitudinal study of Canadians

TitleNeighborhood walkability and body mass index trajectories: Longitudinal study of Canadians
Year of Publication2016
AuthorsWasfi, R. A., Dasgupta K., Orpana H., and Ross N. A.
JournalAmerican Journal of Public Health
Pages934 - 940

Objectives. To assess the impact of neighborhood walkability on body mass index (BMI) trajectories of urban Canadians. Methods. 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/m2]) trajectories as a function of Walk Score and sociodemographic and behavioral covariates with growth curve models and fixed-effects regression models. Results. In men, BMI increased annually by an average of 0.13 kg/m2 (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/m2 (95% CI = -1.16, -0.17). Moving to a low-walkable neighborhood increased BMI for men by approximately 0.45 kg/m2 (95% CI=0.01, 0.89). There was no detectable influence of neighborhood walkability on body weight for women. Conclusions. 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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