Associations of neighbourhood walkability indices with weight gain

Mohammad Javad Koohsari*, Koichiro Oka, Ai Shibata, Yung Liao, Tomoya Hanibuchi, Neville Owen, Takemi Sugiyama

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Inconsistent associations of neighbourhood walkability with adults' body weight have been reported. Most studies examining the relationships of walkability and adiposity are cross-sectional in design. We examined the longitudinal relationships of two walkability indices - conventional walkability and space syntax walkability, and their individual components, with weight change among adults over four years. Methods: Data were from the Physical Activity in Localities and Community study in Adelaide, Australia. In 2003-2004, 2650 adults living in 154 Census Collection Districts (CCDs) returned baseline questionnaires; in 2007-2008, the follow-up survey was completed by 1098. Participants reported their weight at baseline and at follow-up. Neighbourhood walkability indices were calculated using geographic information systems and space syntax software. Linear marginal models using generalized estimating equations with robust standard errors were fitted to examine associations of the two walkability indices and their individual components with the weight at follow-up, adjusting for baseline weight, socio-demographic variables, and spatial clustering at the level of CCD. Results: The overall mean weight gain over four years was 1.5 kg. The two walkability indices were closely correlated (r = 0.76, p < 0.01). No significant associations were found between the overall neighbourhood walkability indices and weight change. Among walkability components, there was a marginally significant negative association between space syntax measure of street integration and weight change: one standard deviation increment in street integration was associated with 0.31 kg less weight gain (p = 0.09). Conclusions: Using a prospective study design and a novel space-syntax based measure of walkability, we were not able to identify relationships between neighbourhood walkability with weight gain. This is consistent with other inconclusive findings on the built environment and obesity. Research on the built environment and adults' weight gain may need to consider not just local environments but also a larger scale environment within a city or workplace environment in order to capture multiple behaviours relevant to weight gain.

Original languageEnglish
Article number33
JournalInternational Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2018 Apr 3


  • Built environment
  • Obesity
  • Public health
  • Space syntax
  • Urban design

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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