Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Urban design influences level of physical activity in Chinese cities

11.02.2015

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@nyu.edu
212-998-2337

 @nyuniversity

http://www.nyu.edu 

Robert Polner | EurekAlert!

More articles from Social Sciences:

nachricht Amazingly flexible: Learning to read in your thirties profoundly transforms the brain
26.05.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Kognitions- und Neurowissenschaften

nachricht Fixating on faces
26.01.2017 | California Institute of Technology

All articles from Social Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Neutron star merger directly observed for the first time

University of Maryland researchers contribute to historic detection of gravitational waves and light created by event

On August 17, 2017, at 12:41:04 UTC, scientists made the first direct observation of a merger between two neutron stars--the dense, collapsed cores that remain...

Im Focus: Breaking: the first light from two neutron stars merging

Seven new papers describe the first-ever detection of light from a gravitational wave source. The event, caused by two neutron stars colliding and merging together, was dubbed GW170817 because it sent ripples through space-time that reached Earth on 2017 August 17. Around the world, hundreds of excited astronomers mobilized quickly and were able to observe the event using numerous telescopes, providing a wealth of new data.

Previous detections of gravitational waves have all involved the merger of two black holes, a feat that won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics earlier this month....

Im Focus: Smart sensors for efficient processes

Material defects in end products can quickly result in failures in many areas of industry, and have a massive impact on the safe use of their products. This is why, in the field of quality assurance, intelligent, nondestructive sensor systems play a key role. They allow testing components and parts in a rapid and cost-efficient manner without destroying the actual product or changing its surface. Experts from the Fraunhofer IZFP in Saarbrücken will be presenting two exhibits at the Blechexpo in Stuttgart from 7–10 November 2017 that allow fast, reliable, and automated characterization of materials and detection of defects (Hall 5, Booth 5306).

When quality testing uses time-consuming destructive test methods, it can result in enormous costs due to damaging or destroying the products. And given that...

Im Focus: Cold molecules on collision course

Using a new cooling technique MPQ scientists succeed at observing collisions in a dense beam of cold and slow dipolar molecules.

How do chemical reactions proceed at extremely low temperatures? The answer requires the investigation of molecular samples that are cold, dense, and slow at...

Im Focus: Shrinking the proton again!

Scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, using high precision laser spectroscopy of atomic hydrogen, confirm the surprisingly small value of the proton radius determined from muonic hydrogen.

It was one of the breakthroughs of the year 2010: Laser spectroscopy of muonic hydrogen resulted in a value for the proton charge radius that was significantly...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ASEAN Member States discuss the future role of renewable energy

17.10.2017 | Event News

World Health Summit 2017: International experts set the course for the future of Global Health

10.10.2017 | Event News

Climate Engineering Conference 2017 Opens in Berlin

10.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Terahertz spectroscopy goes nano

20.10.2017 | Information Technology

Strange but true: Turning a material upside down can sometimes make it softer

20.10.2017 | Materials Sciences

NRL clarifies valley polarization for electronic and optoelectronic technologies

20.10.2017 | Interdisciplinary Research

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>