Melody Smith

Melody Smith
University of Auckland · Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences

PhD

About

224
Publications
51,627
Reads
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5,481
Citations
Introduction
Aspirations for neighbourhoods where children can be independently mobile, where people can get around safely by walking and cycling, and where social and physical well-being is prioritised and facilitated are key drivers of my research. Some examples are: Neighbourhoods for Active Kids: http://kidsinthecity.ac.nz/?page_id=219 Te Ara Mua - Future Streets for Auckland; http://www.futurestreets.org.nz/ Kids in the City: http://kidsinthecity.ac.nz/?page_id=52
Additional affiliations
August 2016 - present
University of Auckland
Position
  • Managing Director
January 2010 - July 2016
Auckland University of Technology
Position
  • Senior Researcher

Publications

Publications (224)
Article
Full-text available
To be realistic and meaningful, positive ageing conceptualisations should involve a diverse range of perspectives. Yet, problematically, perspectives are often distinguished as ‘researcher versus older adult’. In this scoping review, we suggest that distinguishing perspectives based on the data collection and interpretation approach is more meaning...
Article
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Active transport to and/or from school (ATS), alone or combined with motorised transport, provides an opportunity to increase adolescents’ physical activity levels to prevent obesity. However, travel through and exposure to an unhealthy food environment en route to school may have unintended consequences, specifically unhealthy snacking. This study...
Article
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Action research and grounded theory are popular methodologies in qualitative health research. The aim of this structured narrative review was to develop a contemporary understanding of combining action research and grounded theory. We searched Web of Science Core Collection and Google Scholar for empirical peer-reviewed articles that used both meth...
Article
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Background: Growing evidence shows the positive influence of neighbourhood green space on mental well-being among adults through multiple health behaviours, but similar studies are lacking for adolescents. Methods: Data were drawn from the 2019 wave of the Youth2000 survey series in Aotearoa, New Zealand with secondary school students (aged 10-19 y...
Article
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There are no government policies in Aotearoa, New Zealand (NZ) sufficient to protect children from unhealthy food and beverage marketing. Repeated exposure to advertising can have long-term impacts on children’s dietary preferences, ultimately increasing the risk of non-communicable diseases in adulthood. An important food environment for children...
Article
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Measures of individual mobility, such as activity space, have been previously used to help improve our understanding of individuals’ interactions with their everyday environments. However, such methods have rarely been adopted in studying children's physical activity and active travel behavior. In this study, we use a combination of participatory m...
Article
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Neighbourhood design can have substantial impacts on children's physical and psychological well-being. COVID-19 lockdowns produced striking and unprecedented changes in how neighbourhoods functioned for children. The aim of this research was to explore what worked well for children during Alert Levels 3 and 4 (lockdown) in Aotearoa New Zealand (NZ)...
Article
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Regular participation in physical activity is essential for children’s physical, mental, and cognitive health. Neighborhood environments may be especially important for children who are more likely to spend time in the environment proximal to home. This article provides an update of evidence for associations between children’s physical activity beh...
Article
Purpose Limited evidence exists regarding a group of nurses' physical activity patterns and association with resilience. Less is known about the physical activity health paradox in nurses (the positive health effects of leisure time physical activity vs the negative health effects of occupational physical activity). This study aimed to explore the...
Article
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Background The social ecological approach suggests that the spatial context among other factors influence physical activity behavior. Ample research documents physical environmental effects on physical activity. Yet, to date inconsistent associations remain, which might be explained by conceptual and methodological challenges in measuring the spati...
Article
The benefits of walking are now well understood. However, there is still no consensus on what causes people to forego short walking trips. This study examined users’ perceptions on trips usually walked, as well as perceptions of desirable trips within walking distance but not walked. 56 adults with diverse disability statuses and ages, living in Au...
Article
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Globally, large cities are implementing guidelines to ensure that environment, economics and sociality are at the forefront of urban design. Promotion of healthier streets has created new opportunities for social and commercial interaction and more inclusive outcomes. However, while most megacity streets share commonalities, the streets in medium-d...
Article
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Background Geographic information systems (GIS) are often used to examine the association between both physical activity and nutrition environments, and children’s health. It is often assumed that geospatial datasets are accurate and complete. Furthermore, GIS datasets regularly lack metadata on the temporal specificity. Data is usually provided ‘a...
Article
Qualitative health research has been uniquely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Various public health directives will likely remain in place until this pandemic is fully controlled, creating long-lasting impacts on the design and conduct of qualitative health research. Virtual qualitative research provides an alternative to traditional interviews...
Article
Purpose Urban environments and transport systems can enable and encourage walking, and therefore play a key role in climate action, public health, equity of access, and population wellbeing. The question, especially in cities that have been dominated by car traffic, is how? The challenge is heightened by the multidisciplinary involvements in the de...
Article
One of the key social determinants of health that can impact children and young people is migration. Advances in health research have seen a shift away from a biomedical model of health to understanding health as a multifactorial, holistic state - mentally, physically, and socially. The aim of this article is to illustrate how different methods (i....
Presentation
Purpose In urban areas, shifting trips to walking contributes to physical activity and independent movement, but also climate action and noise reduction. While research on walkability has made significant progress, there is still no consensus on what people perceive as barriers. This study examined the barriers as perceived by 56 adults with divers...
Article
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Introduction Neighbourhood environments can have significant and enduring impacts on children’s physical, psychological and social health. Environments can impact health through promoting or hindering physical activity, active travel, and healthy eating in addition to opportunities for social interaction, cognitive development, rest and relaxation....
Article
The experience of Covid-19 in Aotearoa New Zealand in 2020 has been strongly shaped by a narrative emanating from a robust partnership between politicians and public health experts. This narrative, as we illustrate in the sections below, treads a careful line between hard and soft responses. To elaborate, enacting policy such as closing borders and...
Article
Walkability is much studied, but the relative importance of perceptions and motivations is still not consensual. This study took a holistic approach to examine the comparative importance of a range of possible perceptions, motivations and individual characteristics on walking levels. Data from Auckland Transport's Active Modes online survey (AT sur...
Article
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Active participation in community and cultural life is a basic right of all children and young people (CYP) and is central to wellbeing. For disabled CYP, mobility can be constrained through a range of environmental and social/attitudinal barriers. The aim of this research was to understand the enablers and barriers to mobility from the perspective...
Article
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This study aimed to systematically identify, map out, and describe geographical information systems (GIS)-based approaches that have been employed to measure children's neighborhood geographies for physical activity behaviors. Forty studies were included, most were conducted in the USA. Heterogeneity in GIS methods and measures was found. The major...
Article
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Travelling to school by car diminishes opportunities for physical activity and contributes to traffic congestion and associated noise and air pollution. This meta-analysis examined sociodemographic characteristics and built environment associates of travelling to school by car compared to using active transport among New Zealand (NZ) adolescents. F...
Article
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Active school travel contributes to children’s physical, mental and social wellbeing. The prevalence of children’s active school travel, however, has been declining in many developed countries. Gaining insights into school culture and environments in relation to school travel behaviour is crucial to inform interventions. Using a multiphase mixed me...
Presentation
The built environment is known to influence walking behaviours, but how it exerts its influence is less clear. A variety of tools and scales have been proposed to measure the environment, walking behaviour and their associations. None of these tools are perfect, and some are calibrated for specific demographics, such non-disabled middle-aged adults...
Article
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This systematic review summarised and evaluated the evidence for associations between green space and adolescents' mental well-being. The PRISMA statement guidelines were followed for reporting systematic reviews. Fourteen articles met the inclusion criteria for this review. Synthesis suggests beneficial associations between green space exposure an...
Article
Introduction Built environment infrastructure that supports active travel may help increase rates of children's active travel to school. Knowledge gaps exist in terms of how small-to-medium scale, school-focused infrastructural changes might impact children's active school travel and associated variables along the pathway to behaviour change. The a...
Article
Aim and objectives: To describe intensive care unit (ICU) nurses' physical work activity behavioural patterns over 12 hr using dual accelerometry, following a job demands-recovery framework. Background: Limited studies utilised accelerometry to objectively analyse nurses' physical workloads. Little is known about intensive care nurses' physical...
Article
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In New Zealand, almost 22% of children aged 2-14 are overweight and another 11% are obese. The children’s Emergency Department (ED) was within the main hospital serving South Auckland, which has even higher rates of obesity. We set out to explore the experience of families and Healthcare Professionals (HCP) when having an obesity diagnosis discussi...
Article
Full-text available
A significant body of evidence exists on walking as a behaviour. The socio-ecological framework outlines multi-level influences encompassing individual, social/ organizational, and environmental aspects. “Walkability” is much discussed, but it is not clear what characteristics of the built environment (BE) contribute to it: a variety of scales, too...
Article
Migration is a key social determinant of health affecting children’s life chances and health outcomes. Yet, relatively little is known about young migrants’ own health experiences. This paper reports findings from a systematic review examining the health experiences of children who migrated in the Western Pacific region. A systematic search of the...
Article
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The purpose of this research was to gain an understanding of child consultation in policies for healthy environments in the international evidence base, and examine national and local-level policy and processes regarding child consultation. A systematic mapping review was conducted and grey literature was sought from Aotearoa New Zealand urban and...
Article
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The lack of bike lane access has been a proven risk factor for childhood obesity due to its role in discouraging healthy lifestyles. However, there has not been a systematic review of this important association in the existing literature. This study aims to fill this gap. A literature search was conducted in the Cochrane Library, PubMed, Embase, an...
Article
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Active transport to or from school presents an opportunity for adolescents to engage in daily physical activity. Multiple factors influence whether adolescents actively travel to/from school. Creating safe walking and cycling routes to school is a promising strategy to increase rates of active transport. This article presents a comprehensive concep...
Article
Aim and objectives The study aimed to assess intensive care nurses’ resilience, and identify associated personal factors and physical activity behaviours using a job demands‐recovery framework. Background Currently, there is inconsistent evidence as to whether nurse resilience is associated with personal factors, or with physical activity at work...
Article
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Children rarely understand the full extent of the persuasive purpose of advertising on their eating behaviours. Addressing the obesogenic environments in which children live, through a quantification of outdoor advertising, is essential in informing policy changes and enforcing stricter regulations. This research explores the proportion of bus stop...
Article
The social and cultural determinants of health among Pacific people must be addressed to understand the underlying factors related to poor health outcomes. Such factors may include (but are not be limited to) culture, religion, education, socioeconomic status and health literacy. One study, using the lens of Pacific culture, found that almost 90% o...
Chapter
Children and youth can accumulate physical activity across a number of domains, including unstructured play, participation in organized sports, and active transport. Active transport is an activity domain of particular interest due to the demonstrated associations with physical activity, regularity with which trips are made, and multiple co-benefit...
Preprint
Full-text available
A significant body of evidence exists on walking as a behaviour. The socio-ecological framework outlines multi-level influences encompassing individual, social/ organizational, and environmental aspects. “Walkability” is much discussed, but it is not clear what characteristics of the built environment (BE) contribute to it: a variety of scales, too...
Article
Full-text available
Introduction Active school travel (AST) is important for child and environmental health. In New Zealand, AST has declined over recent decades and is relatively low compared to many other countries. A plethora of evidence related to children's AST exists, yet a holistic and context-specific understanding of factors related to the behaviour remains e...
Article
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Background Children residing in neighbourhoods of high deprivation are more likely to have poorer health, including excess body size. While the availability of unhealthy food outlets are increasingly considered important for excess child body size, less is known about how neighbourhood deprivation, unhealthy food outlets and unhealthy dietary behav...
Article
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The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) represent a historic global linking of health, equity and environmental sustainability. Accumulated evidence suggests that improving urban neighbourhoods to make them safer and more attractive for walking and cycling can accelerate progress towards the SDGs. Th...
Article
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Calls to enhance the health of migrant population sub-groups are strengthening, with increasing evidence documenting the relationship between migration and health outcomes. Despite the importance of migration to global health promotion, little research has focused on the health experiences of young migrants. As part of a Worldwide University Networ...
Article
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Background: The IPEN International Physical Activity and Environment Network Adolescent project was conducted using common study protocols to document the strength, shape, and generalizability of associations of perceived neighborhood environment attributes with adolescents' physical activity and overweight/obesity using data from 15 countries. Co...
Article
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Spatial lifecourse epidemiology is an interdisciplinary field that utilizes advanced spatial, location-based, and artificial intelligence technologies to investigate the long-term effects of environmental, behavioural, psychosocial, and biological factors on health-related states and events and the underlying mechanisms. With the growing number of...
Article
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Introduction: Active transport (AT) contributes to human and environmental health but is low and declining in New Zealand (NZ) children and youth. Quality evidence is necessary to inform and evaluate interventions, identify inequities, and understand trends. NZ has participated in the Global Physical Activity (PA) Matrix since 2014. This collaborat...
Article
Globally rates of active school travel (AST) are in decline. New Zealand has one of the lowest rates of AST compared to other countries. To date much research investigating reasons for this decline and evaluations of interventions to increase the uptake of AST have occurred from an adult-centric perspective. This study takes a child-centred approac...
Article
Natural environments – green spaces, blue spaces (such as lakes, rivers and beaches), and biodiversity – have potential health benefits. However, there is lack of knowledge about the relationships between these environments and adolescent emotional health. Our study assessed the relationship between the natural environments of residential neighbour...
Presentation
Full-text available
Plan of approach The quality of the street environment is known to contribute to walkability. Its importance and its components are however debated, and it is often broadly absent from walkability indices such as WalkScore(TM). Understanding how quality might deter from walking is crucial to help cities prioritise improvements of the walking realm...
Article
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The research aim was to investigate associations between objectively-assessed built environment attributes and metabolic risk in adolescents of Pacific Islands ethnicity, and to consider the possible mediating effect of physical activity and sedentary time. Youth (n = 204) undertook a suite of physical assessments including body composition, blood...
Article
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Introduction In New Zealand, as elsewhere, active school travel has declined over recent decades. The emergence of physical inactivity as a global health concern has heightened the need for strategies to reverse this decline. In this paper we question whether ‘exemplar schools’ - those with comparatively high active school travel rates – offer less...
Article
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Street connectivity, as a neighbourhood built environmental factor, may affect individual physical activity (PA) and subsequently weight status. However, these associations remain inconclusive. This study aimed to systematically review the association between street connectivity and childhood obesity. A literature search was conducted in the Cochra...
Article
Children interact with and are greatly affected by their neighbourhoods. This research aims to understand the places children go in their neighbourhood and their perceptions of them. A child-centred approach was used to map destinations and ask open-ended survey questions, using Maptionnaire (a public participation geographic information system (PP...
Article
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Appropriately disseminating results to children are important because it respects the role they played in the research process. Clearly conveying complex messages to children, however, can be challenging and take a substantial amount of time for researchers. This paper reports on the results dissemination processes and accompanying critical reflect...
Article
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Objective To describe the body size and weight, and the nutrition and activity behaviours of sexual and gender minority (SGM) students and compare them with those of exclusively opposite-sex-attracted cisgender students. Male and female SGM students were also compared. Design Data were from a nationally representative health survey. Setting Secon...
Article
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Children’s independent mobility is declining internationally. Parents are the gatekeepers of children’s independent mobility. This mixed methods study investigates whether parent perceptions of the neighbourhood environment align with objective measures of the neighbourhood built environment, and how perceived and objective measures relate to paren...