Neighbourhood walkability is associated with risk of gestational diabetes: A cross-sectional study in New York City

Paediatr Perinat Epidemiol. 2023 Mar;37(3):212-217. doi: 10.1111/ppe.12952. Epub 2023 Jan 12.


Background: Despite the links between neighbourhood walkability and physical activity, body size and risk of diabetes, there are few studies of neighbourhood walkability and risk of gestational diabetes (GD).

Objectives: Assess whether higher neighbourhood walkability is associated with lower risk of GD in New York City (NYC).

Methods: Cross-sectional analyses of a neighbourhood walkability index (NWI) score and density of walkable destinations (DWD) and risk of GD in 109,863 births recorded in NYC in 2015. NWI and DWD were measured for the land area of 1 km radius circles around the geographic centroid of each Census block of residence. Mixed generalised linear models, with robust standard error estimation and random intercepts for NYC Community Districts, were used to estimate risk ratios for GD for increasing quartiles of each of the neighbourhood walkability measures after adjustment for the pregnant individual's age, race and ethnicity, parity, education, nativity, and marital status and the neighbourhood poverty rate.

Results: Overall, 7.5% of pregnant individuals experienced GD. Risk of GD decreased across increasing quartiles of NWI, with an adjusted risk ratio of 0.81 (95% Confidence Interval (CI) 0.75, 0.87) comparing those living in areas in the 4th quartile of NWI to those in the first quartile. Similarly, for comparisons of the 4th to 1st quartile of DWD, the adjusted risk ratio for GD was 0.77 (95% CI 0.71, 0.84).

Conclusions: These analyses find support for the hypothesis that higher neighbourhood walkability is associated with a lower risk of GD. The analyses provide further health related support for urban design policies to increase walkability.

Keywords: gestational diabetes; neighbourhood walkability; poverty rate; urban design.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Diabetes, Gestational* / epidemiology
  • Environment Design
  • Female
  • Humans
  • New York City / epidemiology
  • Pregnancy
  • Residence Characteristics
  • Walking*