Neighbourhood differences in objectively measured physical activity, sedentary time and body mass index


Background: There is limited Canadian research examining whether directly measured physical activity (PA) and body mass index (BMI) differ between neighbourhoods with different objectively measured socioeconomic (SES) and recreation (REC) environments. Purpose: To determine whether mean adult PA levels, sedentary time and BMIs were different across four neighbourhoods with contrasting SES and REC environments in Ottawa, Canada. Methods: This study employed a cross-sectional design to collect pilot data of objectively measured height, weight and PA (using accelerometry) and self-reported covariates in 113 adults (≥18 years). Four contrasting neighbourhoods (high REC/high SES, high REC/low SES, low REC/high SES, and low REC/low SES) were selected based on data collected as part of the Ottawa Neighbourhood Study. Analysis of covariance and logistic regression were used to perform neighbourhood comparisons for PA, sedentary time and BMI, adjusting for age, sex and household income and possible interactions. Post-hoc comparisons using Tukey’s test were performed. Results: Significant neighbourhood-group effects were observed for light intensity PA and sedentary time. Post-hoc tests identified that the low REC/high SES neighbourhood had significantly more minutes of light PA than the low REC/low SES (Mdiff = 56.05 minutes·day, Tukey p = 0.01). Unadjusted BMI differed between the four neighbourhoods, but the differences were not significant after controlling for age, sex and household income. Conclusions: This study demonstrates that light PA and sedentary time differ between neighbourhoods of varying REC and SES environments after controlling for differences in age, sex and household income. Findings also suggest that other area-level factors may explain these neighbourhood differences.

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Prince, S. , Tremblay, M. , Prud’homme, D. , Colley, R. , Sawada, M. and Kristjansson, E. (2011) Neighbourhood differences in objectively measured physical activity, sedentary time and body mass index. Open Journal of Preventive Medicine, 1, 182-189. doi: 10.4236/ojpm.2011.13024.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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