Introduction: Obesity is a public health problem that is due in part to low levels of physical activity. Physical activity levels are influenced by the built environment. We examined how changes in the built environment affected residents' physical activity levels in a low-income, primarily African American neighborhood in New Orleans. Methods: We built a 6-block walking path and installed a school playground in an intervention neighborhood. We measured physical activity levels in this neighborhood and in 2 matched comparison neighborhoods by self-report, using doorto-door surveys, and by direct observations of neighborhood residents outside before (2006) and after (2008) the interventions. We used Pearson χ tests of independence to assess bivariate associations and logistic regression models to assess the effect of the interventions. Results: Neighborhoods were comparable at baseline in demographic composition, choice of physical activity locations, and percentage of residents who participated in physical activity. Self-reported physical activity increased over time in most neighborhoods. The proportion of residents observed who were active increased significantly in the section of the intervention neighborhood with the path compared with comparison neighborhoods. Among residents who were observed engaging in physical activity, 41% were moderately to vigorously active in the section of the intervention neighborhood with the path compared with 24% and 38% in the comparison neighborhoods at the postintervention measurement (P <.001). Conclusion: Changes to the built environment may increase neighborhood physical activity in low-income, African American neighborhoods.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Health Policy
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health