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Development and statistical discussion of an index to assess the opportunities for physical activity in the neighborhood environment of children

Description

The aim of this study was to assess characteristics of the built environment in European regions of the IDEFICS study (Identification and prevention of dietary- and lifestyle-induced health effects in children and infants) and to adapt and expand the walkability concept with regard to physical activity levels in children. The walkability concept is used to assess characteristics of the urban environment that enable walking and that focus on physical activity levels in adults and is mainly implemented in study regions in the U.S. or Australia. Different geostatistical methods were investigated within one German region of the IDEFICS study to quantitatively and qualitatively assess urban characteristics and to calculate urban measures with regard to physical activity levels of 2- to 9-year old children that participated in the IDEFICS study.

Based on the walkability concept we assessed urban characteristics that describe opportunities for walking provided by short routes, diverse destinations in the neighborhood and the availability of public transit. To expand the walkability concept with regard to children, which are mainly physically active during leisure time, we particularly considered public open spaces and recreational facilities and assessed the availability of these characteristics based on a kernel density approach using their mid-point.

Especially parks and playgrounds showed a positive effect on moderate to vigorous physical activity (MVPA) of children compared to other recreational facilities. Thus, we assume that the spatial availability of designed public open spaces contributes to moveable neighborhoods, which is also supported considering qualitative aspects of recreational facilities. Investigating urban measures, such as residential density, land use mix, and street connectivity, with regard to MVPA of children from the German study region, Delmenhorst, revealed a negative effect of land use mix and only positively small effects of residential density and street connectivity resulting in a moveability index to quantify opportunities for phyiscal acitivty in children.

Hence, with regard to children, mainly residential districts with good access to design public open spaces seem to provide sufficient opportunities for physical activity. However, perceived safety concerns negatively influence physical activity levels of children and should be considered as important confounders, beside socio-economic status of the parents, such as education and household income.

We particularly considered adaptive bandwidths that are able to capture the environmental variability and the topography of the urban environment. Our results showed that distances of 1.000m and 1.250m may capture the spatial context of children and modelling a two-dimensional bandwidth adjusted for residential density can improve the calculation of the spatial availability.

Implementing the moveability index in large urban areas will allow to quantify districts with respect to their supportiveness for physical activity and hence to give recommendations for urban planners and stakeholders.

Funding period

Begin:   November 2010
End:   February 2014

Sponsor

  • German Research Foundation

Contact

Dr. rer. nat. Christoph Buck

Cooperation

  • Prof. Dr. Ilse de Bourdeaudhuij (Fakultät der Medizin und Gesundheitswissenschaften, Universität Ghent, Belgien)
  • Prof. Dr. Thomas Kneib (Institut für Mathematik, Universität Oldenburg)
  • Prof. Dr. Lauren Lissner (Königin Silvias Kinderhospital, Universität Göteborg, Schweden)
  • Dr. Alfonso Siani (Institut für Ernährungswissenschaften, National Research Council, Avellino, Italien)
  • Tobias Tkaczick (Institut für Geographie, Universität Bremen)

Link

Website of the IDEFICS study

Selected project-related publications

    Articles with peer-review

  • Buck C, Pohlabeln H, Huybrechts I, De Bourdeaudhuij I, Pitsiladis Y, Reisch LA, Pigeot I. Development and application of a moveability index to quantify possibilities for physical activity in the built environment of children. Health & Place. 2011;17(6):1191-1201.
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.healthplace.2011.08.011
  • Articles without peer-review

  • Buck C, Pigeot I. Quantifying environmental opportunities for physical activity in children: A pilot application. WHO Collaborating Centre for Housing and Health Newsletter. 2011;(10):3-5.
  • Book chapters

  • Bödeker M, Buck C, Bucksch J, Schmidt A, Schneider S. Werkstattgespräch: Grenzen und offene Fragen zum Walkability-Konzept. In: Bucksch J, Schneider S, editors. Walkability - Das Handbuch zur Bewegungsförderung in der Kommune. Bern: Hans Huber. 2014. S. 301-320
  • Buck C, Tkaczick T. Geographische Informationssysteme. In: Bucksch J, Schneider S, editors. Walkability - Das Handbuch zur Bewegungsförderung in der Kommune. Bern: Hans Huber. 2014. S. 165-178
  • Presentations at scientific meetings/conferences (invited)

  • Buck C, Tkaczick T. Geoinformationssysteme und ihre Potenziale für die Bewegungs- und Gesundheitsförderung. 4. Fachtagung des Zentrums für Bewegungsförderung Nordrhein-Westfalen, 15. November 2012, Düsseldorf.
  • Buck C, Pohlabeln H, Pigeot I. Charakterisierung des bebauten Wohnumfeldes mit Hilfe von GIS am Beispiel der IDEFICS-Studie. Workshop des gemeinsamen Arbeitskreises "Umweltmedizin, Expositions- und Risikoabschätzungen" der DGEpi, DGSMP und GMDS, 31. März - 1. April 2011, Hannover.
  • Presentations at scientific meetings/conferences

  • Buck C, Kneib T, Tkaczick T, Konstabel K, Pigeot I. Assessing spatial availability of urban point characteristics to explain physical activity in children: Evaluation of kernel approaches and neighborhood. 60. Biometrisches Kolloquium der Deutschen Region der Internationalen Biometrischen Gesellschaft (IBS-DR), 10.-13. März 2014, Bremen.
  • Buck C, Pitsiladis Y, Pigeot I, on behalf of the IDEFICS consortium. How the built environment influences physical activity in children. 12th Annual Meeting of the International Society of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity (ISBNPA), IDEFICS-Symposium: "Physical Activity in Small Children - Assessment, Determinants, Health Outcomes and Methodological Challenges," 22-25 May 2013, Ghent, Belgium.
  • Buck C, Pohlabeln H, De Bourdeaudhuij I, Pitsiladis Y, Reisch LA, Pigeot I. Urban opportunities for physical activity in children. Development and application of a moveability index. 11th Annual Meeting of the International Society for Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity (ISBNPA), 23-26 May 2012, Austin, USA.
  • Buck C, Pohlabeln H, De Bourdeaudhuij I, Reisch LA, Pigeot I. Messung von Bewegungsmöglichkeiten in der urbanen Lebensumwelt von Kindern. 7. Jahrestagung der Deutschen Gesellschaft für Epidemiologie (DGEpi), 26.-29. September 2012, Regensburg.
  • Buck C. Development and application of a moveability index to assess the opportunities for physical activity in the neighborhood environment of children. Sahlgrenska School of Public Health and Community Medicine, 6 May 2011, Gothenburg, Sweden.
  • Buck C, Pohlabeln H, Pigeot I. Entwicklung eines Walkability-Index zur Quantifizierung der Bewegungsmöglichkeiten in urbaner Umgebung. Workshop "Health Geography - Geographische Methoden in Epidemiologie und Versorgungsforschung" der Arbeitsgruppe Health Geography in der Deutschen Gesellschaft für Epidemiologie (DGEpi), 25. Juni 2010, München.
  • Posters at scientific meetings/conferences

  • Pigeot I, Buck C, Pohlabeln H, Huybrechts I, Pitsiladis Y, De Bourdeaudhuij I, Reisch LA, on behalf of the IDEFICS consortium. Development and application of a moveability index to quantify possibilities for physical activity in the built environment of children. 3rd North American Congress of Epidemiology, 21-24 June 2011, Montreal, Canada.