This study investigated differences in health outcomes between active and passive school commuters, and examined associations between parent perceptions of the neighborhood environment and active school commuting (ASC). One hundred-ninety-four children (107 girls), aged 9–10 years from ten primary schools in Liverpool, England, participated in this cross-sectional study. Measures of stature, body mass, waist circumference and cardiorespiratory fitness (CRF) were taken. School commute mode (active/passive) was self-reported and parents completed the neighborhood environment walkability scale for youth. Fifty-three percent of children commuted to school actively. Schoolchildren who lived in more deprived neighborhoods perceived by parents as being highly connected, unaesthetic and having mixed land-use were more likely to commute to school actively (p
< 0.05). These children were at greatest risk of being obese and aerobically unfit(p
< 0.01). Our results suggest that deprivation may explain the counterintuitive relationship between obesity, CRF and ASC in Liverpool schoolchildren. These findings encourage researchers and policy makers to be equally mindful of the social determinants of health when advocating behavioral and environmental health interventions. Further research exploring contextual factors to ASC, and examining the concurrent effect of ASC and diet on weight status by deprivation is needed.
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