Built environment and health.

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Preventive Medicine (Impact Factor: 2.93). 08/2008; 47(3):239-40. DOI: 10.1016/j.ypmed.2008.07.010
Source: PubMed
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    ABSTRACT: Municipalities all over the globe seek to evaluate the sustainability of their communities and this process requires an interdisciplinary perspective. Walkability and social capital are important measures of sustainable communities that are not necessarily considered together in measurement schemes. Through a community-based case study, the following article examines the relationship between select measures of social capital and self-perceived walkability. Descriptive statistics demonstrated that higher levels of social capital existed in more walkable communities. More sophisticated analysis further supported this association. A community index was created from responses to questions about participating in civic engagement activities such as donating blood, attending a committee meeting or public hearing, interacting with individuals in various neighborhoods, and contributing to a community project. A trust index was also created with answers to survey questions about general trust and trust of neighbors and other members of communities. Multilevel models demonstrated that higher levels of walkability were associated with higher levels of participation in community activities, even after controlling for socio-demographic factors. Similar patterns were found for the trust index where higher levels of walkability were positively associated with positive responses to a variety of trust questions. Implications for sustainable communities policy and management are suggested.
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    ABSTRACT: Beyond individual-level factors, researchers have adopted a spatial perspective to explore potentially modifiable environmental determinants of health. A spatial perspective can be integrated into health research by incorporating spatial data into studies or analysing georeferenced data. Given the rapid changes in data collection methods and the complex dynamics between individuals and environment, we argue that geographical information system (GIS) functions have shortcomings with respect to analytical capability and are limited when it comes to visualizing the temporal component in spatio-temporal data. In addition, we maintain that relatively little effort has been made to handle spatial heterogeneity. To that end, health researchers should be persuaded to better justify the theoretical meaning underlying the spatial matrix in analysis, while spatial data collectors, GIS specialists, spatial analysis methodologists and the different breeds of users should be encouraged to work together making health research move forward through addressing these issues.
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    ABSTRACT: This chapter concerns the analysis of geographic and contextual effects on health behaviors related to energy balance, such as diet, weight, and physical activity. We adopt a broad definition of the environment to include not just ambient exposures to toxins, meteorological conditions, or other traditional foci of environmental sciences but also the built, economic, social, and policy aspects of the environment. The chapter includes a selective review of research in this area concerning urban sprawl and obesity, built environment and physical activity, social context and energy balance, and the food environment. We then focus on ongoing challenges to advances in the analysis of contextual effects, including discussion of confounding self-selection as a barrier to causal inference, variable selection and spatial scan statistics, and the general problem of incorporating maps into research on health behavior variables. Experimental and longitudinal designs have not been applied extensively in this field and are required to examine causal associations and to quantify which types of interventions are likely to have the largest effect in specific situations.
    06/2010: pages 267-297;

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