Urban park development and pediatric obesity rates: A quasi-experiment using electronic health record data

Academic Article


  • Introduction: Childhood obesity affects ~20% of children in the United States. Environmental influences, such as parks, are linked with increased physical activity (PA). Objective: To examine whether changes in Body Mass Index (BMI) z-score were associated with construction of a new park. Methods: A quasi-experimental design was used to determine whether living in proximity of a park was associated with a reduction in BMI z-score. Children were selected from health clinics within an 11 mile radius of the park. A repeated-measure ANOVA was employed for analysis of the relationship between exposure (new park) and BMI z-score. Results: Participants were 1443 (median age 10.3 range (2–17.9 years), BMI: z-score 0.84 ± 1.09) African American (77.4%) adolescents. Change in BMI z-score was not statistically different for children living at different distances from the park after controlling for age, gender, race, ethnicity, or payer type (p = 0.4482). We did observe a small 0.03 increase in BMI z-score from pre- to post-park (p = 0.0007). There was a significant positive association between child’s baseline age and BMI z-score (p < 0.001). Conclusions: This study found proximity to a park was not associated with reductions in BMI z-score. Additional efforts to understand the complex relationship between park proximity, access, and PA are warranted.
  • Authors

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Goldsby TSU; George BJ; Yeager VA; Sen BP; Ferdinand A; Sims DMT; Manzella B; Skinner AC; Allison DB; Menachemi N
  • Volume

  • 13
  • Issue

  • 4