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Neighbourhoods for Active Kids: study protocol for a cross-sectional examination of neighbourhood features and children's physical activity, active travel, independent mobility and body size
  1. Melody Oliver1,
  2. Julia McPhee2,
  3. Penelope Carroll3,
  4. Erika Ikeda2,
  5. Suzanne Mavoa3,4,
  6. Lisa Mackay2,
  7. Robin A Kearns5,
  8. Marketta Kyttä6,
  9. Lanuola Asiasiga3,
  10. Nicholas Garrett7,
  11. Judy Lin3,
  12. Roger Mackett8,
  13. Caryn Zinn2,
  14. Helen Moewaka Barnes3,
  15. Victoria Egli2,
  16. Kate Prendergast2,
  17. Karen Witten3
  1. 1School of Nursing, the University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand
  2. 2Human Potential Centre, Auckland University of Technology, Auckland, New Zealand
  3. 3SHORE and Whāriki Research Centre, School of Public Health, Massey University, Auckland, New Zealand
  4. 4McCaughey VicHealth Centre for Community Wellbeing, School of Population and Global Health, the University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia
  5. 5School of Environment, the University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand
  6. 6Department of Real Estate, Planning and Geoinformatics, Aalto University, Helsinki, Finland
  7. 7Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Auckland University of Technology, Auckland, New Zealand
  8. 8University College London, London, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Melody Oliver; melody.oliver.aut{at}


Introduction New Zealand children's physical activity, including independent mobility and active travel, has declined markedly over recent decades. The Neighbourhoods for Active Kids (NfAK) study examines how neighbourhood built environments are associated with the independent mobility, active travel, physical activity and neighbourhood experiences of children aged 9–12 years in primary and intermediate schools across Auckland, New Zealand's largest city.

Methods and analysis Child-specific indices of walkability, destination accessibility and traffic exposure will be constructed to measure the built environment in 8 neighbourhoods in Auckland. Interactive online-mapping software will be used to measure children's independent mobility and transport mode to destinations and to derive measures of neighbourhood use and perceptions. Physical activity will be measured using 7-day accelerometry. Height, weight and waist circumference will be objectively measured. Parent telephone interviews will collect sociodemographic information and parent neighbourhood perceptions. Interviews with school representative will capture supports and barriers for healthy activity and nutrition behaviours at the school level. Multilevel modelling approaches will be used to understand how differing built environment variables are associated with activity, neighbourhood experiences and health outcomes.

Discussion We anticipate that children who reside in neighbourhoods considered highly walkable will be more physically active, accumulate more independent mobility and active travel, and be more likely to have a healthy body size. This research is timely as cities throughout New Zealand develop and implement plans to improve the liveability of intensifying urban neighbourhoods. Results will be disseminated to participants, local government agencies and through conventional academic avenues.

  • Built environment
  • Accelerometry
  • Participatory GIS
  • Child-centred methods
  • Obesity

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