Are Perceived Neighborhood Hazards a Barrier to Physical Activity in Children? | Lifestyle Behaviors | JAMA Pediatrics | JAMA Network
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October 2001

Are Perceived Neighborhood Hazards a Barrier to Physical Activity in Children?

Author Affiliations

From the Mexican American Studies and Research Center, University of Arizona (Dr Romero); Stanford Center for Research in Disease Prevention (Ms Haydel and Dr Killen), the Division of General Pediatrics, Department of Pediatrics (Drs Robinson and Mendoza), and the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences (Dr Kraemer), Stanford University, Stanford, Calif; and the Department of Psychology, University of New Mexico (Dr Erickson), Albuquerque.

Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2001;155(10):1143-1148. doi:10.1001/archpedi.155.10.1143

Background  We hypothesized that children's perceptions of more neighborhood hazards would be associated with less physical activity, less aerobic fitness, and a higher body mass index.

Objective  To examine the association between a hazardous neighborhood context and physical activity in children.

Methods  Fourth-grade students (n = 796) of diverse ethnic and economic backgrounds completed measures of neighborhood hazards, self-reported physical activity, physical fitness, height, and weight. Parents (n = 518) completed telephone interviews and provided data on their education level and occupation.

Results  As expected, children from families of lower socioeconomic status perceived significantly more neighborhood hazards. Contrary to our hypothesis, the perception of more hazards was significantly associated with more reported physical activity. This finding was not explained by school heterogeneity, alteration of the hazards measure, or differences in socioeconomic status.

Conclusion  To further examine the relationship between neighborhood hazards and physical activity, we suggest that future studies include assessments of sedentary behavior, parental fear of violence, parental regulation of children's leisure activities, and cost and quality of available play areas and organized sports.