Support for physical activity policies and perceptions of work and neighborhood environments: variance by BMI and activity status at the county and individual levels

UMMS Affiliation

Division of Preventive and Behavioral Medicine; UMass Worcester Prevention Research Center

Publication Date


Document Type



Behavioral Medicine | Behavior and Behavior Mechanisms | Community Health and Preventive Medicine | Environmental Public Health | Health Policy | Health Psychology | Preventive Medicine | Public Health Education and Promotion | Recreation, Parks and Tourism Administration


PURPOSE: To examine support for local policies encouraging physical activity and perceived neighborhood environment characteristics by physical activity and weight status of respondents across U.S. counties.

DESIGN: We used a random-digit-dial, computer-assisted telephone interview (CATI) to conduct a cross-sectional telephone questionnaire in selected U.S. counties in 2011.

SETTING: Counties with high prevalences of obesity and sedentary behavior (HH; n = 884) and counties with low prevalences of obesity and sedentary behavior (LL; n = 171) were selected nationally.

SUBJECTS: Adult respondents from HH (n = 642) and LL (n = 566) counties.

MEASURES: Questions were asked of respondents, pertaining to support for physical activity policies in various settings, neighborhood features, time spent in physical activity and sedentary behaviors, self-reported weight and height, and personal demographic information.

ANALYSIS: Means and frequencies were calculated; bivariable and multivariable linear and logistic regression models, developed. Models were adjusted for individual characteristics and county HH/LL status.

RESULTS: Respondents in LL counties perceived their neighborhood and work environments to be more supportive of healthy behaviors and were more supportive of local physical activity policies than respondents in HH counties (p < .001 for all). Positive neighborhood environment perceptions were related to reduced body mass index, increased physical activity, and decreased sedentary behavior.

CONCLUSION: Policy support and neighborhood environments are associated with behaviors. Results can inform targeting policy agendas to facilitate the improvement of environments (community, work, and school) to be more supportive of physical activity.


Physical Activity, Built Environment, Policy, Sedentary Behavior, Prevention Research

DOI of Published Version



Am J Health Promot. 2014 Jan-Feb;28(3 Suppl):S33-43. doi: 10.4278/ajhp.130430-QUAN-216. Link to article on publisher's site

Journal/Book/Conference Title

American journal of health promotion : AJHP

Related Resources

Link to Article in PubMed

PubMed ID