Neighborhood Walkability and Body Mass Index Trajectories: Longitudinal Study of Canadians

Am J Public Health. 2016 May;106(5):934-40. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2016.303096. Epub 2016 Mar 17.


Objectives: To assess the impact of neighborhood walkability on body mass index (BMI) trajectories of urban Canadians.

Methods: Data are from Canada's National Population Health Survey (n = 2935; biannual assessments 1994-2006). We measured walkability with the Walk Score. We modeled body mass index (BMI, defined as weight in kilograms divided by the square of height in meters [kg/m(2)]) trajectories as a function of Walk Score and sociodemographic and behavioral covariates with growth curve models and fixed-effects regression models.

Results: In men, BMI increased annually by an average of 0.13 kg/m(2) (95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.11, 0.14) over the 12 years of follow-up. Moving to a high-walkable neighborhood (2 or more Walk Score quartiles higher) decreased BMI trajectories for men by approximately 1 kg/m(2) (95% CI = -1.16, -0.17). Moving to a low-walkable neighborhood increased BMI for men by approximately 0.45 kg/m(2) (95% CI = 0.01, 0.89). There was no detectable influence of neighborhood walkability on body weight for women.

Conclusions: Our study of a large sample of urban Canadians followed for 12 years confirms that neighborhood walkability influences BMI trajectories for men, and may be influential in curtailing male age-related weight gain.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Body Mass Index*
  • Body Weight
  • Canada
  • Environment*
  • Female
  • Health Behavior
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Residence Characteristics / statistics & numerical data*
  • Sex Factors
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Urban Population / statistics & numerical data*
  • Walking / statistics & numerical data*
  • Young Adult