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Neighborhood Walkability and Adiposity in the Women’s Health Initiative Cohort

      Introduction

      Neighborhood environments may play a role in the rising prevalence of obesity among older adults. However, research on built environmental correlates of obesity in this age group is limited. The current study aimed to explore associations of Walk Score, a validated measure of neighborhood walkability, with BMI and waist circumference in a large, diverse sample of older women.

      Methods

      This study linked cross-sectional data on 6,526 older postmenopausal women from the Women’s Health Initiative Long Life Study (2012–2013) to Walk Scores for each participant’s address (collected in 2012). Linear and logistic regression models were used to estimate associations of BMI and waist circumference with continuous and categorical Walk Score measures. Secondary analyses examined whether these relationships could be explained by walking expenditure or total physical activity. All analyses were conducted in 2015.

      Results

      Higher Walk Score was not associated with BMI or overall obesity after adjustment for sociodemographic, medical, and lifestyle factors. However, participants in highly walkable areas had significantly lower odds of abdominal obesity (waist circumference >88 cm) as compared with those in less walkable locations. Observed associations between walkability and adiposity were partly explained by walking expenditure.

      Conclusions

      Findings suggest that neighborhood walkability is linked to abdominal adiposity, as measured by waist circumference, among older women and provide support for future longitudinal research on associations between Walk Score and adiposity in this population.
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