Urban sprawl and its relationship with active transportation, physical activity and obesity in Canadian youth.

Health reports / Statistics Canada, Canadian Centre for Health Information = Rapports sur la sante / Statistique Canada, Centre canadien d'information sur la sante

PubMedID: 22866536

Seliske L, Pickett W, Janssen I. Urban sprawl and its relationship with active transportation, physical activity and obesity in Canadian youth. Health Rep. 2012;23(2):17-25.
BACKGROUND
Urban sprawl is a potential environmental influence on youth overweight/obesity. However, little is known about the association between urban sprawl and behaviours that influence obesity such as active transportation and physical activity.

METHODS
The study population consisted of 7,017 respondents aged 12 to 19 to the 2007/2008 Canadian Community Health Survey, living in Canada's 33 census metropolitan areas (CMAs). Factor analysis was used to obtain an urban sprawl score for each CMA, incorporating dwelling density, percentage of single or detached dwelling units, and percentage of the population living in the urban core. Multi-level logistic regression examined whether urban sprawl was associated with frequent active transportation (30 or more minutes a day), moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) (60 or more minutes a day), and overweight/obesity.

RESULTS
Urban sprawl was associated with active transportation among 12- to 15-year-olds, with the relative odds of engaging in at least 30 minutes of active transportation per day increasing by 24% (95% CI: 10-39%) for each standard deviation (SD) increase in the urban sprawl score. For the entire sample aged 12 to 19, higher urban sprawl was associated with MVPA (odds ratio per SD increase = 1.10, 95% CI: 1.01-1.20), but not with overweight/obesity (odds ratio per SD increase = 1.06, 95% CI: 0.94-1.18).

INTERPRETATION
Urban sprawl was associated with active transportation and MVPA in Canadian youth, although in the opposite direction to what has been reported in the literature for adults.