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.