Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Urban design influences level of physical activity in Chinese cities


Chinese cities are different from many Western cities in relation to urban design, and far more densely populated. But a new study by New York University and East China Normal University researchers has found that the design of the built environment influences how much walking and bicycling people do in Chinese cities where obesity and chronic diseases are at highly elevated levels and still rising.

"While not surprising," write the authors in their study published in the journal Preventive Medicine, "this finding is important, as it demonstrates that the association between the design of the built environment and walking, which has been found to be linked in research in Western countries, also holds true in China."

Entitled "Walking, obesity, and urban design in Chinese neighborhoods," the study was authored by Mariela Alfonzo and Kristen Day of NYU Polytechnic School of Engineering, Zhan Guo of NYU's Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service, and Lin Lin of East China Normal University. Its principal finding, the researchers write, is "part of emerging evidence that will be of critical importance to persuade local government officials and developers of the value of pursuing more walkable urban development patterns."

Reflecting on China's high rates of obesity and chronic diseases, the researchers set out to explore the impact of the built environment on physical activity in six densely populated neighborhoods in Shanghai and Hangzhou. The chosen communities encompassed urban core, inner-suburban, and outer-suburban areas.

Each was inventoried for ease of walking and bicycling, inclusive of such features as sidewalks, street trees, benches, street widths, and curb cuts. Also, the communities were audited for barriers to pedestrians and bicyclists, such as vendors and parked cars obstructing sidewalks, visible air pollution, bicycle lane hindrances, and overhead pedestrian bridges, which require greater exertion to use to cross the street.

Four hundred and fifty-five Shanghai residents and 615 Hangzhou residents were surveyed for the study in central public spaces in order to assess rates of walking and bicycling for travel and recreation, and for health outcomes, including Body Mass Index (BMI), demographic information, and environmental perceptions.

The higher the neighborhood ranked overall in the "State of Place Index" - a method of categorizing communities' place-quality and walkability based on such urban design characteristics as density, parks and public space, personal safety, and pedestrian infrastructure and amenities (the index encompasses 11 different dimensions in all) - the greater were the levels of walking and bicycling for commuting and recreation that were seen.

According to the study, income levels played a role in how much a respondent walked or bicycled, but not in a predictable way: Both higher and lower income respondents were more likely to have lower BMI, compared to middle income respondents, who were more likely to live in suburban neighborhoods that have auto-oriented transportation and a lack of pedestrian amenities.

Put another way, middle-income respondents were less likely to utilize active-travel options, such as walking and bicycling, as compared with both high- and low- income respondents. Separately, many of those who perceived their neighborhoods as unsuitable for walking actually walked more; it is likely that their alternatives to walking were limited, which presents a social-equity issue.

While the researchers did not examine the food environment, their study recommends that food intake be explored by other researchers in the future to shed further light on the link between income, obesity and walking in Chinese cities. For their own part, the authors plan to follow up their study by examining the impact that each of the 11 individual dimensions that make up the "State of Place Index" has on physical activity centered in Shanghai and Hangzhou.

Media Contact

Robert Polner


Robert Polner | EurekAlert!

More articles from Social Sciences:

nachricht New population data provide insight on aging, migration
31.08.2016 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)

nachricht PRB projects world population rising 33 percent by 2050 to nearly 10 billion
25.08.2016 | Population Reference Bureau

All articles from Social Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.

In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...

Im Focus: Ultra-thin ferroelectric material for next-generation electronics

'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.

Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Innovative technique for shaping light could solve bandwidth crunch

20.10.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

Finding the lightest superdeformed triaxial atomic nucleus

20.10.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

NASA's MAVEN mission observes ups and downs of water escape from Mars

20.10.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

More VideoLinks >>>