JOURNAL ARTICLE

Neighbourhood environment, sitting time and motorised transport in older adults: a cross-sectional study in Hong Kong

Anthony Barnett, Ester Cerin, Claudia S-K Ching, Janice M Johnston, Ruby S Y Lee
BMJ Open 2015, 5 (4): e007557
25941186

OBJECTIVES: Sitting time is a public health concern. This study examined associations of objectively measured neighbourhood environmental attributes with non-transport sitting time and motorised transport in 484 Hong Kong older adults. Neighbourhood attributes encouraging walking may help older adults replace some sitting time at home and on motorised transport with light-to-moderate-intensity activities such as strolling around the neighbourhood or walking to/from neighbourhood destinations. Thus, we hypothesised environmental attributes found to be related to walking would show associations with non-transport sitting time and motorised transport opposite to those seen for walking.

DESIGN: Cross-sectional.

SETTING: Hong Kong, an ultradense urban environment.

PARTICIPANTS: 484 ethnic Chinese Hong Kong residents aged 65+ recruited from membership lists of four Hong Kong Elderly Health Centres representing catchment areas of low and high transport-related walkability stratified by socioeconomic status (response rate: 78%).

PRIMARY AND SECONDARY OUTCOME MEASURES: Attributes of participants' neighbourhood environments were assessed by environmental audits, while non-transport sitting time and motorised transport were ascertained using the International Physical Activity Questionnaire-Long Form (Chinese version).

RESULTS: Daily non-transport sitting minutes were 283 (SD=128) and motorised transport 23 (SD=28). Prevalence of signs of crime/disorder, streetlights, public facilities (toilets and benches) and pedestrian safety were independently negatively related, and sloping streets positively related, to sitting outcomes. Places of worship in the neighbourhood were predictive of more, and prevalence of public transit points of less, non-transport sitting. Associations of either or both sitting outcomes with prevalence of food/grocery stores and presence of parks were moderated by path obstructions and signs of crime/disorder.

CONCLUSIONS: The findings suggest that access to specific destinations and relatively low-cost, minimal impact modifications to the urban form, such as street lighting, public toilets, benches and public transit points, could potentially reduce sitting time and associated negative health outcomes in Hong Kong older adults.

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