Academic journal article Environmental Health Perspectives

A Longitudinal Analysis of the Influence of the Neighborhood Environment on Recreational Walking within the Neighborhood: Results from RESIDE

Academic journal article Environmental Health Perspectives

A Longitudinal Analysis of the Influence of the Neighborhood Environment on Recreational Walking within the Neighborhood: Results from RESIDE

Article excerpt

Introduction

Increasingly, there are calls to "rethink" approaches to the prevention of disease in the face of global rises in noncommunicable diseases and obesity (Das and Horton 2012; Giles-Corti et al. 2016; Kleinert and Horton 2015). Working with sectors outside of health to create more supportive and sustainable built environments is recognized as an important strategy with a range of cobenefits, such as improving health and the environment, reducing traffic congestion and heat island effects, and mitigating the negative impacts of climate change (Cheng and Berry 2013; Sallis et al. 2016; Watts et al. 2015).

Designing cities that promote health is now a multisector global priority, building on the World Health Organization (WHO) decade-old Healthy Cities agenda (Duhl 1996). For example, the 2015 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals 2030 targets both making cities more inclusive, safe, resilient, and sustainable, and ensuring healthy lives and promoting well-being (United Nations 2015). The 2016 United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development (HABITAT III) set the stage for the New Urban Agenda, including standards for achieving sustainable urban development worldwide (United Nations 2016). Moreover, in late 2016, the WHO Shanghai Declaration reaffirmed its commitment to planning cities to promote health (World Health Organization 2016). Effective translation of findings from transdisciplinary international built environment and health research to urban planning policy and practice will help guide implementation of the sustainable urban development agenda while also promoting health and well-being (Giles-Corti et al. 2016; Sallis et al. 2016; Stevenson et al. 2016).

There is a growing body of evidence showing associations between neighborhood attributes and physical activity, particularly transport walking (Ding and Gebel 2012; McCormack and Shiell 2012; Saelens and Handy 2008; Sallis et al. 2009, 2016). However, to date, much of this evidence is cross-sectional, which limits causal inferences being drawn. Only a handful of recent cohort studies with longitudinal data (Hirsch et al. 2014; Panter et al. 2013) and natural experiments of changes to the built environment (Goodman et al. 2013) provide evidence supporting a causal effect of the built environment on residents' physical activity (Giles-Corti et al. 2013; Halonen et al. 2015; Knuiman et al. 2014; Ranchod et al. 2014; Turrell et al. 2014).

Residential preferences (i.e., self-selection factors) are an important consideration when examining causal relationships between the neighborhood environment and local walking (Boone-Heinonen et al. 2010; Giles-Corti et al. 2008). Longitudinal studies collect repeated measures over time on built environment attributes, walking, and potential confounders. There are now modeling approaches available that utilize all available data on each individual, adjust for measured confounders, and which isolate and compare the between-person (cross-sectional) and within-person (longitudinal) effects of built environment attributes on walking (Allison 2005; Fitzmaurice et al. 2012; Knuiman et al. 2014). This is important because, unlike the between-person effect, the within-person effect is not subject to confounding by unmeasured (time constant) self-selection factors and other confounders (Allison 2005; Fitzmaurice et al. 2012; Knuiman et al. 2014).

Another important consideration in studies of the effect of the neighborhood environment on local walking is the effect of different neighborhood environment attributes on different types of behavior. We have previously argued (Giles-Corti et al. 2013) and shown that transport and recreational walking are distinct behaviors and impacted by different neighborhood features. Transport walking involves walking specifically to get to or from somewhere, such as walking to a shop, work, or public transport, while recreational walking is undertaken for recreation, health, or fitness purposes (Giles-Corti et al. …

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