The Association Between Community Physical Activity Settings and Youth Physical Activity, Obesity, and Body Mass Index

Background This study examined the association between the level of physical activity (PA) friendliness of the built environment and adolescent PA and body mass index using a national sample of youth and data collected from the communities where they reside. Methods Data on height, weight, and PA were taken from annual nationally representative cross-sectional Monitoring the Future surveys of 8th and 10th graders in schools, from 2001 through 2003. Measures of safety, outdoor and commercial PA settings, and urban sprawl were constructed using data collected from the communities in which the students reside. Multilevel models were run and controlled for youth and community demographic and socioeconomic characteristics. Results Increased levels of physical disorder were associated with decreased PA and higher weight. A greater number of commercial PA facilities was associated with increased PA. More compact communities were associated with lower weight and less sports participation. Conclusions