178373 Parental perceptions of neighborhood safety and children's physical activity

Monday, October 27, 2008

Annette E. Aalborg, DrPH , Public Health Program, Touro University, Vallejo, CA
William Satariano, PhD , School of Public Health, University of California, Berkeley, Berkeley, CA
Gail Husson, MPH , Division of Research, Kaiser Permanente, Oakland, CA
Elaine Kurtovich, MPH , Health Research for Action, School of Public Health, University of California, Berkeley, Berkeley, CA
June M. Tester, MD MPH , School of Public Health, University of California, Berkeley, Berkeley, CA
Alan Hubbard, PhD , School of Public Health, University of California, Berkeley, Berkeley, CA

Early adolescence is an important time for children to establish healthy lifestyle habits including regular participation in physical activity (PA). The purpose of this study was to assess how parental perception of neighborhood safety is associated with PA in children aged 10-12 years.


201 parent-child dyads were enrolled from a random sample of HMO members in two distinct geographic areas in Oakland, California. Parents and children were interviewed by telephone about their perceptions of their neighborhood environment including factors related to traffic, social capital, neighborhood aesthetics, and crime. Parents reported the number of days/week their child participated in moderate and vigorous PA. Using ordered logistic regression, we examined the association between the environmental variables and parental reports of children's PA.


Factors positively associated with parental report of children's vigorous PA included “safety of parks at night” (OR: 1.45, 95% CI: 1.01-2.08) and the “presence of crosswalks and pedestrian signals” (OR: 1.29, 95% CI: 1.01-1.65). Parental perception about frequency of specific crimes: “murder” (OR: 0.59, 95% CI: 0.40-0.88), “muggings” (OR: 0.64, 95% CI: 0.43-0.96), and “teens carrying guns” (OR: 0.59, 95% CI: 0.38-0.91) as well as a crime frequency summary score (OR: 0.52, 95% CI: 0.31-0.89) were negatively associated with children's vigorous PA.


Parental perceptions of crime and safety are shown to be associated with their reports of their children's level of physical activity. These results demonstrate the importance of considering neighborhood safety in the development of policies and programs to promote children's PA.

Learning Objectives:
1. Discuss how parental perceptions of safety impact children's physical activity. 2. Identify 2 types of parent's safety concerns that impact children's physical activity. 3. Describe how policy makers may incorporate safety concerns in programs designed to improve children's physical activity.

Keywords: Physical Activity, Child/Adolescent

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am a principle investigator of this study.
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.