157243 Environmental factors impacting urban adolescents' use of parks for physical activity: An examination of objective and perceived measures

Monday, November 5, 2007

Amy Vastine Ries, PhD , Nutrition, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC
Carolyn Voorhees, MS, PhD , Department of Public and Community Health, University of Maryland, College Park, MD
Nan Marie Astone, PhD , Department of Population, Family and Reproductive Health, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, MD
Background: The evidence base is growing to support the impact of the built environment on physical activity. There is, however, limited research involving minority adolescents who have disproportionately low levels of physical activity.

Objective: The objective of this study was to examine associations between park use by urban minority adolescents and objective and perceived measures of their physical and social environments.

Methods: Survey data assessing park use, neighborhood crime, and park availability, quality, and use by family and friends were collected from 350 high school students in Baltimore, Maryland. Objective measures of neighborhood park availability and crime were created using Geographical Information Systems data. Logistic regression analyses were used to test the hypotheses that more park use is associated with a greater number of available parks, less neighborhood crime, higher park quality, and greater park use by family and friends.

Results: The results showed that, with the exception of neighborhood crime, perceptions were associated with park use. Adolescents reporting available parks in their neighborhood were significantly more likely to use parks for physical activity than those who did not report available parks. Perceptions of greater park quality and park use by family and friends were both significantly positively associated with park use. Objective measures of neighborhood crime and park availability were not associated with park use.

Conclusions: Measures of the perceived park environment were associated with park use while objective measures were not. These findings suggest that policy and programmatic efforts to promote physical activity address perceptions of available facilities.

Learning Objectives:
1. Describe objective and perceptual measures used to assess characteristics of the physical and social environments. 2. Identify environmental characteristics that are associated with park use for physical activity in a population of urban, predominately minority adolescents. 3. Discuss policy and programmatic approaches to addressing low levels of physical activity among urban minority youth.

Keywords: Physical Activity, Minorities

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Any relevant financial relationships? No
Any institutionally-contracted trials related to this submission?

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.