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Neighbourhood walkability, daily steps and utilitarian walking in Canadian adults
  1. Samantha Hajna1,
  2. Nancy A Ross1,2,
  3. Lawrence Joseph1,2,
  4. Sam Harper1,
  5. Kaberi Dasgupta1,3
  1. 1Department of Epidemiology, Biostatistics and Occupational Health, McGill University, Montréal, QC, Canada
  2. 2Department of Geography, McGill University, Montréal, QC, Canada
  3. 3Division of Clinical Epidemiology, Department of Medicine, McGill University Health Centre, Montréal, QC, Canada
  1. Correspondence to Dr Kaberi Dasgupta; kaberi.dasgupta{at}mcgill.ca

Abstract

Objectives To estimate the associations of neighbourhood walkability (based on Geographic Information System (GIS)-derived measures of street connectivity, land use mix, and population density and the Walk Score) with self-reported utilitarian walking and accelerometer-assessed daily steps in Canadian adults.

Design A cross-sectional analysis of data collected as part of the Canadian Health Measures Survey (2007–2009).

Setting Home neighbourhoods (500 m polygonal street network buffers around the centroid of the participant's postal code) located in Atlantic Canada, Québec, Ontario, the Prairies and British Columbia.

Participants 5605 individuals participated in the survey. 3727 adults (≥18 years) completed a computer-assisted interview and attended a mobile clinic assessment. Analyses were based on those who had complete exposure, outcome and covariate data (n=2949).

Main exposure measures GIS-derived walkability (based on land use mix, street connectivity and population density); Walk Score.

Main outcome measures Self-reported utilitarian walking; accelerometer-assessed daily steps.

Results No important relationship was observed between neighbourhood walkability and daily steps. Participants who reported more utilitarian walking, however, accumulated more steps (<1 h/week: 6613 steps/day, 95% CI 6251 to 6975; 1 to 5 h/week: 6768 steps/day, 95% CI 6420 to 7117; ≥6 h/week: 7391 steps/day, 95% CI 6972 to 7811). There was a positive graded association between walkability and odds of walking ≥1 h/week for utilitarian purposes (eg, Q4 vs Q1 of GIS-derived walkability: OR=1.66, 95% CI 1.31 to 2.11; Q3 vs Q1: OR=1.41, 95% CI 1.14 to 1.76; Q2 vs Q1: OR=1.13, 95% CI 0.91 to 1.39) independent of age, sex, body mass index, married/common law status, annual household income, having children in the household, immigrant status, mood disorder, perceived health, ever smoker and season.

Conclusions Contrary to expectations, living in more walkable Canadian neighbourhoods was not associated with more total walking. Utilitarian walking and daily steps were, however, correlated and walkability demonstrated a positive graded relationship with utilitarian walking.

  • EPIDEMIOLOGY
  • PUBLIC HEALTH
  • PREVENTIVE MEDICINE

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