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Special Issue "Environmental Supports and Physical Activity among Youth"

A special issue of International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health (ISSN 1660-4601). This special issue belongs to the section "Children's Health".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 September 2020).

Special Issue Editor

Dr. Julian A. Reed
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Professor of Health Sciences, Furman University, Greenville, SC, USA
Interests: built environment (e.g., parks and trails) and physical activity; cognitive benefits of physical activity and fitness; interventions; measurement of physical activity

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues

This Special Issue in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health is devoted to recent findings on “Environmental Supports and Physical Activity”, with a specific focus on children and youth. This Issue will make a substantial contribution to the knowledge base toward a better understanding of how built and physical environments/settings are potential barriers and/or determinants of youth physical activity behaviors. Insight into this important area can better inform policy makers on what to consider when developing/designing new environments for activity. A wide range of topics will be included in this Issue, related to but not limited to varying environmental supports, such as playgrounds, parks, park amenities (e.g., playing fields, courts, aquatic facilities), trails located in parks, paved recreational trails, natural surface trails, hiking trails, greenspaces, sidewalks, paths connecting neighborhoods, street lighting, presence of trees, fitness centers, etc., and their impact on physical activity and the physical/social emotional wellbeing of children and youth.

Dr. Julian A. Reed
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2300 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Published Papers (6 papers)

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Research

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Article
Program Evaluation of Environmental and Policy Approaches to Physical Activity Promotion in a Lower Income Latinx School District in Southeast Los Angeles
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(22), 8405; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17228405 - 13 Nov 2020
Viewed by 573
Abstract
There is alarming population wide prevalence of low adolescent physical activity as this represents a risk factor for later chronic disease development. There is evidence to suggest that schools with strong wellness policies have students that are more frequently active. We designed an [...] Read more.
There is alarming population wide prevalence of low adolescent physical activity as this represents a risk factor for later chronic disease development. There is evidence to suggest that schools with strong wellness policies have students that are more frequently active. We designed an intervention to enhance students’ physical activity levels in five majority Latinx, underserved school districts. Evaluation consisted of assessment of written quality of school-district wellness policies; observation of student’s physical activity during leisure times; and after-school program practices and policies. We examined one of these district’s results more closely, the only participating district with a community coalition, and extracted lessons learned. On the physical activity section of the wellness policy, this district covered a moderate extent of recommended content areas using weak language. Compared to previous reports, we identified low vigorous activity levels for girls and boys at baseline (respectively, 12% and 18%). Finally, we identified that of four after school program sites assessed at baseline, no program reported the recommended 50% or more of program time dedicated to physical activity. Based on these evaluation findings, additional strategies are urgently needed to encourage all students and particularly more girls to be physically active throughout the school day. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environmental Supports and Physical Activity among Youth)
Article
The Moderating Effect of Distance on Features of the Built Environment and Active School Transport
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(21), 7856; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17217856 - 27 Oct 2020
Viewed by 2112
Abstract
Despite growing research supporting the impact of the built environment on active school transport (AST), distance persists as the most powerful predictor of walking and biking to school. There is a need to better understand how environmental features interact with distance to affect [...] Read more.
Despite growing research supporting the impact of the built environment on active school transport (AST), distance persists as the most powerful predictor of walking and biking to school. There is a need to better understand how environmental features interact with distance to affect AST, and whether the influence of environmental factors persist across different distance thresholds. Multilevel models using cluster-robust standard errors were used to examine for interactions between objectively measured macroscale environmental features and several reported distances from home to school (up to ¼, ¼ up to ½, ½ up to 1, 1+ miles) on the likelihood of parent reported AST for children grades 3–8 (n = 2751) at 35 schools who completed a Safe Routes to School Parent Survey about Walking and Biking to School (SRTS Parent Survey). An interaction between both intersection density and food-related land use with distance was observed. The likelihood of AST decreased as intersection density and distance increased (i.e., 31.0% reduced odds among those living within ¼ mile compared to 18.2% using ½–1-mile criterion). The likelihood of using AST were reduced as food-related land use and distance increased (i.e., 43.67% reduced odds among those living under ¼ mile compared to 19.83% reduced odds among those living ½–1 mile). Programs and infrastructure improvements focused on overcoming environmental barriers to promote AST may be most effective when targeting neighborhoods within ¼ mile of schools. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environmental Supports and Physical Activity among Youth)
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Article
Neighborhood Socioeconomic Deprivation Associated with Fat Mass and Weight Status in Youth
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(17), 6421; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17176421 - 03 Sep 2020
Viewed by 1024
Abstract
(1) Background: Few studies have examined the relationship between neighborhood socioeconomic deprivation (SED) and weight-related outcomes in youth, controlling for weight-related behaviors. Hence, the purpose of this study was to examine the association between neighborhood SED, weight status, and fat mass in a [...] Read more.
(1) Background: Few studies have examined the relationship between neighborhood socioeconomic deprivation (SED) and weight-related outcomes in youth, controlling for weight-related behaviors. Hence, the purpose of this study was to examine the association between neighborhood SED, weight status, and fat mass in a diverse sample of youth, before and after controlling for physical activity and diet. (2) Methods: The sample included 828 youth from the Transitions and Activity Changes in Kids study. Neighborhood SED was expressed as an index score at the census tract of residence. Height, weight, and body composition were measured and used to calculate fat mass index (FMI) and weight status. Moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) and sedentary behavior (min/h) were measured via accelerometry. Diet quality was assessed via the Block Food Screener for Kids. Multilevel regression models were employed to examine these relationships. (3) Results: Neighborhood SED was significantly associated with FMI and weight status before and after controlling for MVPA, sedentary behavior, and diet. Notably, youth residing in the most deprived neighborhoods had significantly higher FMI and were 30% more likely to be overweight/obese (OR = 1.30; 95% CI = 1.03–1.65). (4) Conclusions: Greater neighborhood SED was consistently and significantly associated with higher fat mass index and increased likelihood of overweight/obesity among youth. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environmental Supports and Physical Activity among Youth)
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Article
Built Environment and Childhood Weight Status: A Multi-Level Study Using Population-Based Data in the City of Hannover, Germany
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(8), 2694; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17082694 - 14 Apr 2020
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 1111
Abstract
In recent years, built environmental characteristics have been linked to childhood overweight, but the results remain inconsistent across studies. The present study examines associations between several built environmental features and body weight status (BMI) z-score among a large sample of preschool children in [...] Read more.
In recent years, built environmental characteristics have been linked to childhood overweight, but the results remain inconsistent across studies. The present study examines associations between several built environmental features and body weight status (BMI) z-score among a large sample of preschool children in the city of Hannover, Germany. Walkability (Index), green space availability, and playground availability related to preschool children’s home environments were measured using data from OpenStreetMap (OSM). These built environment characteristics were linked to the data from the 2010–2014 school entry examinations in the Hannover city (n = 22,678), and analysed using multilevel linear regression models to examine associations between the built environment features and the BMI z-score of these children (4–8 years old). No significant associations of built environmental factors on children’s BMI were detected, but the effect between green space availability and BMI was modified by the parental educational level. In children with lower compared to higher educated parents, a higher spatial availability of greenspace was significantly associated with reduced body weight. Future research should continue to monitor the disparities in diverse built environment features and how these are related to children’s health. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environmental Supports and Physical Activity among Youth)
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Review

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Review
Identification of Effective Programs to Improve Access to and Use of Trails among Youth from Under-Resourced Communities: A Review
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(21), 7707; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17217707 - 22 Oct 2020
Viewed by 3057
Abstract
The primary purpose of this paper is to identify and review studies evaluating the effectiveness of programs to increase access to trails and trails use (physical activity) among youth from under-resourced communities. Three additional goals include identifying: (1) Correlates of physical activity/trail use [...] Read more.
The primary purpose of this paper is to identify and review studies evaluating the effectiveness of programs to increase access to trails and trails use (physical activity) among youth from under-resourced communities. Three additional goals include identifying: (1) Correlates of physical activity/trail use and features of transportation systems and/or built environment and land use destinations, that may inform and support the planning and implementation of programs to promote trail use among youth, (2) benefits associated with trail use, and (3) barriers to trail use. Under-resourced communities are defined as those lacking sufficient resources (i.e., under-funded). METHODS: A review of the literature was conducted to identify, abstract, and evaluate studies related to programs to promote trail use among youth and youth from under-resourced communities. In anticipation of very few studies being published about this topic, studies were also reviewed to identify correlates of transportation systems and built environment and land use destinations related to increases in physical activity, and benefits of, and barriers to trail use. PUBMED, MEDLINE, PsycINFO, Sportdiscus, Annual Reviews, American Trails, and Google Scholar databases were searched using terms including trails, built environment, physical activity, exercise, walking, children, adolescents, and youth to identify studies that potentially related to the purposes for conducting this review. Review methods identified, 5278 studies based on our search terms. A review of study titles, abstracts, and select full article screens determined that 5049 studies did not meet the study inclusion criteria, leaving 221 studies included in this review. RESULTS: No studies were located that evaluated programs designed to promote and increase trail use among youth, including youth from under-resourced communities. Eight studies used longitudinal or quasi-experimental designs to evaluate physical activity and neighborhood characteristics prospectively among adolescent girls (n = 1), the effects of the path or trail development on physical activity behaviors of children, youth, and adults (n = 4), marketing or media campaigns (n = 2), and wayfinding and incremental distance signage (n = 1) to promote increased trail use. Correlates of transportation systems (e.g., trail access, road traffic congestion related to safe active travel, lack of sidewalks, closer proximity to trails, access to transportation), destinations (e.g., park availability and access, park improvements, greenspaces), or both routes and destinations (e.g., perceptions of safety, lighting), were identified. These correlates may support the planning and implementation of programs to increase trail use among youth, or may facilitate the connection of trails or routes to destinations in communities. Barriers to trail use included costs, crime, lack of transportation, lack of role models using trails, and institutional discrimination. Conclusions: Scientific evidence in support of addressing the underrepresentation of trail use by youth from under-resourced communities is lacking. However, there is a related body of evidence that may inform how to develop programs that support trail use by youth from under-resourced areas. Dedicated, deliberate, and systematic efforts will be required to address research and knowledge gaps, and to evaluate programs and practice related to trail use among youth from low income, often racially or ethnically diverse under-resourced neighborhoods or communities. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environmental Supports and Physical Activity among Youth)
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Other

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Brief Report
Environmental Mismatch: Do Associations between the Built Environment and Physical Activity among Youth Depend on Concordance with Perceptions?
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(4), 1309; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17041309 - 18 Feb 2020
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 1037
Abstract
Without accurate awareness of features within the built environment, the availability of a supportive built environment alone may not be sufficient to influence physical activity levels. We examined the moderating effects of concordance/discordance between selected objective and perceived built environment features in the [...] Read more.
Without accurate awareness of features within the built environment, the availability of a supportive built environment alone may not be sufficient to influence physical activity levels. We examined the moderating effects of concordance/discordance between selected objective and perceived built environment features in the relationship between objective built environment features and physical activity. Cross-sectional data from 465 youth aged 12–20 years from 18 schools in Melbourne, Australia were used. The relationship between trails and physical activity differed by concordance/discordance. There were positive relationships among those with concordant perceptions, but no significant differences for those with discordant perceptions. At least for trails, environmental interventions designed to enhance physical activity may be less effective if efforts are not made to enhance individuals’ awareness of their environment. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environmental Supports and Physical Activity among Youth)
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