In a Canadian study, the presence of nearby parks was strongly associated with girls walking to school and boys engaging in leisure walking. For every additional park located within a half mile of their home, the likelihood of walking to school more than doubled among girls and leisure walking by boys increased by 60 percent. Results were similar even after taking into account family income and the average level of education in the neighborhood, an indicator of area disadvantage.
"There was a strong association between walking and the number of nearby public open recreational spaces, including neighborhood parks, playgrounds and sports fields," said Tracie A. Barnett, Ph.D., lead author of the study and a researcher at Sainte-Justine Hospital Research Center and Université de Montréal in Montreal, Canada. "We were able to relate the proximity and number of parks to how often children aged 8-10 years walked. This is important because active transportation is a promising public health strategy for increasing overall physical activity, and for helping to curb the obesity epidemic. We know that walking to school has been decreasing steadily for the past 30 years; concurrent increases in overweight and obesity suggest that these two phenomena may be linked."
The results are based on the first 300 families enrolled into the Quebec Adipose and Lifestyle Investigation in Youth (QUALITY) study in which researchers are following over 600 children and both biological parents to study the natural history of excess weight and cardiometabolic risk in children.
"Obesity in children and adolescents has tripled in the past 20 or so years," Barnett said. "Although obesity has many causes, this relatively sudden and steep increase suggests that the drivers of the obesity epidemic are largely environmental rather than biological or genetic in nature."
In this study, researchers examined the relationship between park availability and proximity, and walking. All the children were considered at high risk for future obesity because at least one of their parents was obese. Clinic visits determined body fat distribution, fitness, metabolic, genetic/familial, and behavioral factors that could lead to obesity. Both parents and children completed questionnaires during the clinic visit, and children provided a seven-day recall of walking for leisure and their usual methods of getting to and from school. Location of parks was obtained using a geographic information system.
In this sample, researchers found:
One-third of the children walked to and from school.
Parks located within approximately one half mile had the strongest association with walking in this age group.
A greater number of parks were associated more with purpose-driven walking in girls and with leisure walking in boys.
"Parks may benefit girls and boys differently, but are associated with increased overall walking for both," said Barnett, who is also assistant professor of Social and Preventive Medicine at the Université de Montréal.
"In the past few decades we have become more sedentary due to the increased use of labor-saving devices, motorized transportation, television and computers," she said. "In addition, children are spending more time inside, yet we know that spending time outdoors is an important determinant of activity.
In future urban improvements, consideration must be given to parks, outdoor recreational areas and walking or cycling infrastructure in order to increase active living. Equally important is that the parks and recreational areas are well maintained and are safe."
The cross-sectional study provided a "snapshot" look at the environment, but researchers will be following these families over the next 10 years. The researchers plan to follow the children until age 18 to determine the effects of their environments on the development of obesity.
While this study does not provide specific information on the mechanism by which the presence of parks might affect activity in other places, it does provide useful data on how differences in urban environments may translate into differences in lifestyle activities, researchers said.
As the children become teenagers, the environment will evolve, especially as they attain more freedom and become more independent, Barnett said. "Factors that influence their health and lifestyle behaviors will change and these will need to be reassessed."
An American Heart Association statement released in June of 2008 says, "walkable" neighborhoods, with adequate sidewalks and areas for physical activity, can play an important role in combating the rise in obesity rates by making it easier to get daily exercise.
Karen Astle | EurekAlert!
Europe’s Demographic Future. Where the Regions Are Heading after a Decade of Crises
10.08.2017 | Berlin-Institut für Bevölkerung und Entwicklung
Scientists reveal source of human heartbeat in 3-D
07.08.2017 | University of Manchester
Whether you call it effervescent, fizzy, or sparkling, carbonated water is making a comeback as a beverage. Aside from quenching thirst, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have discovered a new use for these "bubbly" concoctions that will have major impact on the manufacturer of the world's thinnest, flattest, and one most useful materials -- graphene.
As graphene's popularity grows as an advanced "wonder" material, the speed and quality at which it can be manufactured will be paramount. With that in mind,...
Physicists at the University of Bonn have managed to create optical hollows and more complex patterns into which the light of a Bose-Einstein condensate flows. The creation of such highly low-loss structures for light is a prerequisite for complex light circuits, such as for quantum information processing for a new generation of computers. The researchers are now presenting their results in the journal Nature Photonics.
Light particles (photons) occur as tiny, indivisible portions. Many thousands of these light portions can be merged to form a single super-photon if they are...
For the first time, scientists have shown that circular RNA is linked to brain function. When a RNA molecule called Cdr1as was deleted from the genome of mice, the animals had problems filtering out unnecessary information – like patients suffering from neuropsychiatric disorders.
While hundreds of circular RNAs (circRNAs) are abundant in mammalian brains, one big question has remained unanswered: What are they actually good for? In the...
An experimental small satellite has successfully collected and delivered data on a key measurement for predicting changes in Earth's climate.
The Radiometer Assessment using Vertically Aligned Nanotubes (RAVAN) CubeSat was launched into low-Earth orbit on Nov. 11, 2016, in order to test new...
A study led by scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg presents evidence of the coexistence of superconductivity and “charge-density-waves” in compounds of the poorly-studied family of bismuthates. This observation opens up new perspectives for a deeper understanding of the phenomenon of high-temperature superconductivity, a topic which is at the core of condensed matter research since more than 30 years. The paper by Nicoletti et al has been published in the PNAS.
Since the beginning of the 20th century, superconductivity had been observed in some metals at temperatures only a few degrees above the absolute zero (minus...
16.08.2017 | Event News
04.08.2017 | Event News
26.07.2017 | Event News
17.08.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
17.08.2017 | Earth Sciences
17.08.2017 | Physics and Astronomy