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

Ta Shauna U. Goldsby, Brandon J. George, Valerie A. Yeager, Bisakha P. Sen, Alva Ferdinand, Devon M.T. Sims, Bryn Manzella, Asheley Cockrell Skinner, David B. Allison, Nir Menachemi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number411
JournalInternational journal of environmental research and public health
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 8 2016


  • Built environment
  • Childhood obesity
  • Electronic health records
  • Quasi-experiment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis

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