|dc.description.abstract||Background: Canadian children and youth are not getting enough physical activity (PA), and spend on average 8.6 waking hours of their day in a sedentary state. Current trends of PA behavior among children are concerning; has prompted research investigating the correlates and determinants of PA in young people. The neighbourhood built environment (BE) has increasingly been identified as an important potential contributor to levels of PA. However, the scientific evidence of BE influences on children’s PA is still developing, compared to that among adults. A better understanding whether and how BE influence children's PA behaviors may help to identify interventions to promote active lifestyles from childhood.
Research aim: This study seeks to examine the potential influences of both children’s perceived and objective BE attributes on objectively-assessed multiple PA outcomes, specifically: Light physical activity (LPA), Moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA), and Sedentary time (ST), in children aged 9-14 years living in Saskatoon, Canada.
Methodology: This study draws on data from the Smart Cities Healthy Kid’s (SCHK), and subsequent Seasonality and Active Saskatoon Kids (SASK) study. Children aged 9-14 years were recruited from the prairie city of Saskatoon, Canada. Neighborhood-scale objective BE characteristics were collected by independent trained assessors using two validated, replicable audit tools (Neighborhood Active Living Potential, NALP, and Irvine Minnesota Inventory, IMI). Children were surveyed on their perceptions of their neighbourhood BE and PA outcomes were objectively monitored (using accelerometer) for one week at three different time periods over a 1 year period. Using a mixed effect model, a multilevel modeling approach was taken to understand the association between BE characteristics and children’s PA outcomes.
Results: Children’s perceived availability of parks and sidewalks predicted higher accumulation of MVPA and lower accumulation of ST in children. Children’s report of the absence of neighbourhood social disorder (e.g. threats from scary dogs/people) was associated with increased LPA, while reported concern for crime was associated with decreased MVPA. As expected, the highest level of observed activity friendliness was associated with decreased ST, however, the highest level of observed safety from crime was associated with increased ST and decreased PA.
Conclusion: Overall safe, walkable, and activity friendly neighbourhoods were found to influence children's activity behaviors. Even so, perceptions of the BE were more strongly associated with children’s PA outcomes than with objectively measured BE. Further context-specific studies and understanding of the policy process that influence changes are required.||