Social and physical contexts of schools and neighborhoods: Associations with physical activity among young people in New Zealand

Jennifer Utter*, Simon Denny, Elizabeth Robinson, Shanthi Ameratunga, Taciano L. Milfont

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Objectives: We sought to determine the association between school- and neighborhood-level characteristics and physical activity among young people. 

Methods: We collected the data as part of Youth'07, a nationally representative survey of the health and well-being of high school students in New Zealand. In total, 9107 students from 96 schools participated (63% response rate). Students answered questions about their schools (e.g., support for physical activity) and neighborhoods (e.g., community cohesion, disintegration, safety, and recreational facilities). We created school-level measures by aggregating the students' reports within their schools and we created neighborhood-level measures by aggregating the students' reports of their neighborhoods to the census area unit of their residential address. We conducted analyses by using cross-classified random-effects models controlling for individual variables, with school and neighborhoods treated as random effects. 

Results: Schools characterized by high sports team participation and neighborhoods characterized by high social connections were positively associated with student physical activity. We observed few other significant characteristics of school and neighborhood environments. 

Conclusions: Our findings highlight that opportunity for sports participation and strong social connections in neighborhoods are particularly important for youths' physical activity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1690-1695
Number of pages6
JournalAmerican Journal of Public Health
Volume101
Issue number9
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2011
Externally publishedYes

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