174984 Neighborhood built environment and physical activity in urban adolescents—evaluating a structural model of walking behavior and physical activity

Tuesday, October 28, 2008: 12:35 PM

Carolyn Voorhees, MS, PhD , Department of Public and Community Health, University of Maryland, College Park, MD
Alice F. Yan, MD , Department of Public and Community Health, School of Public Health, University of Maryland, College Park, College Park, MD
Kelly Clifton, PhD , Urban Studies and Planning, University of Maryland, College Park, MD
Min Qi Wang, PhD , Department of Public and Community Health, University of Maryland School of Public Health, College Park, MD

Few studies have investigated the complex relationship between neighborhood environment and psychosocial factors related to physical activity and walking behavior in urban adolescents. Using structural equation modeling, this study tested a theoretically based explanatory model of physical activity to examine direct and indirect effects of individual (self-efficacy), social (parental support), and three built environmental factors (land use/accessibility, neighborhood satisfaction, and pedestrian/traffic safety).


A cross-sectional study of multi-level risk and protective factors on physical activity (i.e., Moderate-Vigorous Physical Activity-MVPA and walking) in a sample of 350 urban high school students (58.4% female, 69% African American, aged 15-19) was conducted in 2006. Students completed a Web-based survey assessing their perceptions of neighborhood satisfaction, land use/accessibility, pedestrian/traffic safety, self efficacy and perceived parental support. Walking behavior was assessed using a one-week trip diary. Seven-day physical activity levels were measured using accelerometers.


Parental support and self-efficacy had direct pathways to walking behavior. Land use, specifically neighborhood accessibility, influenced adolescents walking behavior via self-efficacy and parental support. Adolescents with higher self-efficacy were more likely to engage in walking via a positive parental support. Similar pathways were found in MVPA models except that parental support was not directly related to MVPA. There were no direct associations of perceived neighborhood satisfaction and pedestrian/traffic safety with either measure of physical activity.


The relationship between the built environment and physical activity is complex. Neighborhood factors appear to work together with psychosocial and family factors to facilitate physical activity in urban youth.

Learning Objectives:
Participants in this session will: 1. learn how theory based analyses is applied 2. be introduced to an analytic approach, Structual equation modelling 3.learn about sources of data for objective measures of outcome variables from two perspectives 4.gain an understanding of the complexity of the relationships between neighborhood features and how social factors may interact to modify the relationship between the built environmental and physical activity in an urban environment.

Keywords: Adolescents, Physical Activity

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am principal investigator of the study and conceived of the research question and analyses plan, interpreted results and wrote the abstract.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

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.

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