Purpose: To examine whether urban form is associated with body size within a densely-settled city.
Design: Cross-sectional analysis using multilevel modeling to relate body mass index (BMI) to built environment resources.
Setting: Census tracts (n = 1989) within the five boroughs of New York City.
Subjects: Adult volunteers (n = 13,102) from the five boroughs of New York City recruited between January 2000 and December 2002.
Measures: The dependent variable was objectively-measured BMI. Independent variables included land use mix; bus and subway stop density; population density; and intersection density. Covariates included age, gender, race, education, and census tract-level poverty and race/ethnicity.
Analysis: Cross-sectional multilevel analyses.
Results: Mixed land use (Beta = -.55, p < .01), density of bus stops (Beta = -.01, p < .01) and subway stops (Beta = -.06, p < .01), and population density (Beta = -.25, p < .001), but not intersection density (Beta = -. 002) were significantly inversely associated with BMI after adjustmentfor individual- and neighborhood-level sociodemographic characteristics. Comparing the 90th to the 10th percentile of each built environment variable, the predicted adjusted difference in BMI with increased mixed land use was -. 41 units, with bus stop density was -.33 units, with subway stop density was -.34 units, and with population density was -.86 units.
Conclusion: BMI is associated with built environment characteristics in New York City.