The relationship of area-level sociodemographic characteristics, household composition and individual-level socioeconomic status on walking behavior among adults
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Understanding the contextual factors associated with why adults walk is important for those interested in increasing walking as a mode of transportation and leisure. This paper investigates the relationships between neighborhood-level sociodemographic context, individual level sociodemographic characteristics and walking for leisure and transport. Data from two community-based studies of adults (n=550) were used to determine the association between the area-sociodemographic environment (ASDE), calculated from U.S. Census variables, and individual-level SES as potential correlates of walking behavior. Descriptive statistics, mean comparisons and Pearson's correlations coefficients were used to assess bivariate relationships. Generalized estimating equations were used to model the relationship between ASDE, as quartiles, and walking behavior. Adjusted models suggest adults engage in more minutes of walking for transportation and less walking for leisure in the most disadvantaged compared to the least disadvantaged neighborhoods but adding individual level demographics and SES eliminated the significant results. However, when models were stratified for free or reduced cost lunch, of those with children who qualified for free or reduced lunch, those who lived in the wealthiest neighborhoods engaged in 10.7 minutes less of total walking per day compared to those living in the most challenged neighborhoods (p<0.001). Strategies to increase walking for transportation or leisure need to take account of individual level socioeconomic factors in addition to area-level measures.
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