Active commute to school: does distance from school or walkability of the home neighbourhood matter? A national cross-sectional study of children aged 10–11 years, Scotland, UK

Macdonald, L. , McCrorie, P. , Nicholls, N. and Olsen, J. R. (2019) Active commute to school: does distance from school or walkability of the home neighbourhood matter? A national cross-sectional study of children aged 10–11 years, Scotland, UK. BMJ Open, 9(12), e033628. (doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2019-033628) (PMID:31874893) (PMCID:PMC7008418)

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Objectives: To study the extent to which home-to-school distance and neighbourhood walkability were associated with self-reported active travel to school (ATS) (eg, walking, cycling), and to explore how distance moderates the effect of walkability on ATS, among 10–11 years old. Design: Cross-sectional study. Setting: Data were collected between May 2015 and May 2016 in partnership with the Growing Up in Scotland Study, a nationally representative longitudinal cohort study. Participants: 713 children (male (n=330) and female (n=383) 10–11 years old) from Studying Physical Activity in Children’s Environments across Scotland. Primary and secondary outcome measures: Children who actively travelled to/from school categorised as active all (100% of ATS) and active 60%+ (at least 60% of ATS); home-to-school road/path network distance (<0.5 km, 0.5 to <1 km, 1 to <1.5 km, 1.5 to <2 km, 2 km+); home neighbourhood walkability (i.e., composite measure of road/path intersection density and dwelling density) (in quintiles). Results: Distance and walkability were both associated with ATS. The likelihood of ATS for all or most journeys decreased with increasing distance. Compared with ‘most’ walkable areas (Q1), the odds of active all were significantly lower within least walkable areas (Q5 OR 0.45, 95% CI 0.21 to 0.99), and odds of active 60%+ were significantly less in Q2–Q5 (lowest odds Q5 OR 0.20, 95% CI 0.07 to 0.47). Regarding walkability and distance interactions, for all distance categories, higher walkability increased the probability of ATS (for most school journeys). Conclusion: Walkability was positively associated with ATS within all distance categories, with the relationship between walkability and ATS more complex than the clear-cut association between distance and ATS. A more walkable environment had a larger effect on the probability of reaching the 60% threshold of school journeys using ATS than the probability of always travelling in an active manner. Investment is needed in existing less walkable neighbourhoods to provide infrastructure to support opportunities for children’s ATS.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Olsen, Dr Jonathan and Nicholls, Dr Natalie and Mccrorie, Dr Paul and MacDonald, Mrs Laura
Authors: Macdonald, L., McCrorie, P., Nicholls, N., and Olsen, J. R.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Health & Wellbeing > MRC/CSO SPHSU
Journal Name:BMJ Open
Publisher:BMJ Publishing Group
ISSN (Online):2044-6055
Published Online:23 December 2019
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2019 The Authors
First Published:First published in BMJ Open 9(12): e033628
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons License

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Project CodeAward NoProject NamePrincipal InvestigatorFunder's NameFunder RefLead Dept
727621Neighbourhoods and CommunitiesAnne EllawayMedical Research Council (MRC)MC_UU_12017/10HW - MRC/CSO Social and Public Health Sciences Unit
727621Neighbourhoods and CommunitiesAnne EllawayOffice of the Chief Scientific Adviser (CSO)SPHSU10HW - MRC/CSO Social and Public Health Sciences Unit