Exploring the association between WalkScore and Body Mass Index in Washington State
Bell, Brett Marie
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Purpose: Walking is the preferred form of exercise for most people in the United States, yet most people live too far from work, school or daily errands to be able to transport themselves by walking. Some denser areas facilitate walking for transportation. Incorporating walking into daily routines could be associated with a less sedentary lifestyle and less obesity. The purpose of this project was to explore the relationship between the ability to walk for running errands and obesity. Methodology: Walkability was measured using WalkScore.com, a website that gathers data on neighborhood walkability. A numerical WalkScore was obtained for each zip code in Washington state. Obesity was measured by BMI reported from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance Survey published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from the years 2006-2010. This included The data were analyzed using logistic regression in Stata software. Results: An inverse association was observed between WalkScore and BMI. for every 10 point increase in WalkScore, BMI decreased by 0.077 points. This small association persisted, but with a smaller magnitude after controlling for income, race, education level, disability, age, sex, general health status, and physical activity, for every 1 point increase in WalkScore, BMI decreased by 0.0041. Other factors that influenced BMI significantly included income, education, sex and race. Conclusions: This project showed that there is a small part of obesity that could be explained by the walkability of the neighborhoods in which people live. WalkScore can be used as a measure of walkability in public health research. However, other social determinants like race, education, income and sex also have important associations with BMI. Further research with different methodology may help illuminate these relationships.
- Health services