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[ Recorded presentation ] Recorded presentation

Using theory to understand the multiple determinants of low walking and biking rates to school

Laura A. Linnan, ScD, CHES1, Sarah Martin, PhD2, Kathyrn Ahlport, MSPH3, Catherine Giles, BS3, Dianne Ward, EdD, and Lisa A. Sutherland, PhD5. (1) Department of Health Behavior and Health Education, UNC Chapel Hill School of Public Health, CB #7440, Chapel Hill, NC 27599-7440, 919 843-8044, linnan@email.unc.edu, (2) Division of Nutrition and Physical Activity, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 4770 Buford Hwy NE; Mailstop K-46, Atlanta, GA 30341-3717, (3) Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 1700 Airport Road, CB7426, Chapel Hill, NC 27599-7426, (4) Department of Nutrition, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, CB 7461, 4110 McGavran-Greenberg, Chapel Hill, NC 27599

Obesity is a significant public health problem. Increasing physical activity is one important way to address the rising obesity epidemic among children and adults. Estimates are that 15% of school-age children currently walk or bike to school as compared to nearly 50% in 1969. Increasing the percentage of children who walk or bike to school would help address the obesity epidemic. However, the percentage of children who walk or bike to school has been steadily declining despite an increase in Walk to School events promoted nationally. Although a few factors are thought to be related to low rates of walking/biking to school (e.g. concerns about crime, traffic patterns that cause safety concerns, time considerations, and/or inconvenience), we found no studies that applied a systematic, theoretically driven approach to uncovering the social determinants of low walking/biking rates. Ecological models suggest that multiple levels of influence (e.g. intrapersonal, interpersonal, institutional, community, and policy) operate to determine school walking/biking patterns. However, investigations into the determinants of low walking/biking rates have focused almost exclusively on intrapersonal and interpersonal influences. This presentation will offer one macrosocial theoretical perspective -- political economy of health (PEH) -- which may help guide both researchers and practitioners interested in addressing the historical, economic, political and social drivers of low biking/walking rates that operate at the community and policy levels of the ecological framework. Using theory to investigate the full spectrum of determinants, from individual to policy, offers a more complete range for planning future interventions and identifying research gaps to address this important public health issue.

Learning Objectives:

Keywords: Physical Activity, Behavioral Research

Presenting author's disclosure statement:
I do not have any significant financial interest/arrangement or affiliation with any organization/institution whose products or services are being discussed in this session.

[ Recorded presentation ] Recorded presentation

Political Economy of Health

The 132nd Annual Meeting (November 6-10, 2004) of APHA