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Perception of safety and its association with physical activity in adolescents

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages8
JournalAmerican Journal of Preventive Medicine
DOIs
DateAccepted/In press - 10 Dec 2019
DatePublished (current) - 13 Feb 2020

Abstract

Introduction: Low levels of physical activity are associated with several non-communicable diseases. In Mexico 39.5% of adolescents do not meet the physical activity guidelines from the World Health Organisation. Previous literature suggests an association between perception of safety and physical activity. The aim of this paper is to examine the association between perceived crime and pedestrian safety and physical activity in Mexican adolescents.

Methods: Cross-sectional study with data from 4,079 adolescents between 15 and 18 years old in Mexico. Physical activity was measured with the Youth Physical Activity Questionnaire and was grouped into five domains: 1) moderate-to-vigorous physical activity, 2) sport activity, 3) leisure time activity, 4) Physical Education class, and 5) active commuting to school. Perception of safety was measured as pedestrian safety and crime safety, using the Neighbourhood Environment Walkability Scale-youth (NEWS-Y). A Confirmatory Factor Analysis was performed to examine the construct validity of NEWS-Y on the Mexican population. Data was collected in 2017 and analysed in 2018. Associations between physical activity and perception of safety were examined using linear regression models.

Results: Low perception of pedestrian safety was associated with lower moderate-to-vigorous physical activity per week (coef=-0.12, 95% CI=-0.19 to -0.05) and lower sport activity per week (coef=-0.13, 95% CI=-0.23 to -0.03) in females. There was no association between perception of safety and physical activity among males.

Conclusions: Pedestrian safety was negatively associated with moderate-to-vigorous physical activity and sport participation in females. Environments with better lighting, crosswalks and walking/cycle trails could increase females’ physical activity.

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