The impact of neighborhood park access and quality on body mass index among adults in New York City

Prev Med. 2014 Jul;64:63-8. doi: 10.1016/j.ypmed.2014.03.026. Epub 2014 Apr 2.


Objective: To evaluate the association between adult individuals' body mass index (BMI) and characteristics of parks (size and cleanliness) in an urban environment taking into account the physical and social environments of the neighborhood.

Methods: Cross-sectional, hierarchical linear models were used to determine whether park effects were associated with BMI using self-reported height and weight data obtained from the Community Health Survey in New York City (2002-2006).

Results: Both the proportion of the residential zip code that was large park space and the proportion that was small park space had significant inverse associations with BMI after controlling for individual socio-demographic and zip code built environment characteristics (-0.20 BMI units across the inter-quartile range (IQR) for large parks, 95% CI -0.32, -0.08; -0.21 BMI units across the IQR for small parks, 95% CI -0.31, -0.10, respectively). Poorer scores on the park cleanliness index were associated with higher BMI, 0.18 BMI units across the IQR of the park cleanliness index (95% CI 0.05, 0.30).

Conclusions: This study demonstrated that proportion of neighborhoods that was large or small park space and park cleanliness were associated with lower BMI among NYC adults after adjusting for other neighborhood features such as homicides and walkability, characteristics that could influence park usage.

Keywords: Environment; Epidemiology; Neighborhood; Obesity; Urban; Walkability.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Body Mass Index*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Environment Design*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Linear Models
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • New York City
  • Public Facilities / standards
  • Public Facilities / statistics & numerical data
  • Residence Characteristics / statistics & numerical data*
  • Self Report
  • Social Environment*
  • Urban Health / statistics & numerical data
  • Walking / physiology*
  • Young Adult