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The Influence of Weather Variation, Urban Design and Built Environment on Objectively Measured Sedentary Behaviour in Children

1 Johnson Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy, University of Regina, Regina, Canada
2 Department of Community Health and Epidemiology, College of Medicine, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Canada
3 Healthy Populations Institute, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Canada
4 Saskatchewan Population Health and Evaluation Research Unit, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Canada

Special Issues: Advances in sedentary behavior research and translation

With emerging evidence indicating that independent of physical activity, sedentary behaviour (SB) can be detrimental to health, researchers are increasingly aiming to understand the influence of multiple contexts such as urban design and built environment on SB. However, weather variation, a factor that continuously interacts with all other environmental variables, has been consistently underexplored. This study investigated the influence of diverse environmental exposures (including weather variation, urban design and built environment) on SB in children. This cross-sectional observational study is part of an active living research initiative set in the Canadian prairie city of Saskatoon. Saskatoon’s neighbourhoods were classified based on urban street design into grid-pattern, fractured grid-pattern and curvilinear types of neighbourhoods. Diverse environmental exposures were measured including, neighbourhood built environment, and neighbourhood and household socioeconomic environment. Actical accelerometers were deployed between April and June 2010 (spring-summer) to derive SB of 331 10–14 year old children in 25 one week cycles. Each cycle of accelerometry was conducted on a different cohort of children within the total sample. Accelerometer data were matched with localized weather patterns derived from Environment Canada weather data. Multilevel modeling using Hierarchical Linear and Non-linear Modeling software was conducted by factoring in weather variation to depict the influence of diverse environmental exposures on SB. Both weather variation and urban design played a significant role in SB. After factoring in weather variation, it was observed that children living in grid-pattern neighbourhoods closer to the city centre (with higher diversity of destinations) were less likely to be sedentary. This study demonstrates a methodology that could be replicated to integrate geography-specific weather patterns with existing cross-sectional accelerometry data to understand the influence of urban design and built environment on SB in children.
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