Current Obesity Reports

, Volume 3, Issue 2, pp 183–198 | Cite as

Activity-Friendly Built Environment Attributes and Adult Adiposity

  • Takemi Sugiyama
  • Mohammad Javad Koohsari
  • Suzanne Mavoa
  • Neville OwenEmail author
Obesity Prevention (A Must, Section Editor)


Physically-active and sedentary behaviors are determinants of adult weight gain and are associated with built-environment attributes. We reviewed recent evidence on built-environment attributes with adult adiposity. Of 41 relevant papers identified, 34 reported cross-sectional, six recorded prospective findings, and one included both cross-sectional and prospective designs. In 15 cross-sectional examinations of composite built environment indices (walkability; composite other), seven identified significant positive relationships in the expected direction; of 42 instances examining particular walkability elements (density, connectivity, land use mix), 13 were positive. Of 44 instances examining proximity of utilitarian and recreational destinations, there were 13 positive associations; and, of 41 instances examining pedestrian-environment attributes, 12 were positive. In the seven prospective studies, 20 sets of relationships were identified – nine were significant and in the expected direction. Evidence on built environment/adiposity relationships remains modest and could be strengthened through improvements in measurement methods and with further evidence from prospective studies.


Body mass index Waist circumference Built environment Walkability Pedestrian infrastructure Aesthetics Safety Recreational facilities Parks Population density Destinations Street connectivity Land use mix Urban design Physical activity Walking Sedentary behavior Sitting Cross-sectional study Prospective study Adult adiposity 



Koohsari is supported by a National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia (NHMRC) Program Grant [#569940] and by the Victorian Government’s Operational Infrastructure Support Program. Owen is supported by a NHMRC Program Grant [#569940], a Senior Principal Research Fellowship [NHMRC #1003960] and the Victorian Government’s Operational Infrastructure Support Program. Mavoa is supported by Community Indicators Victoria, which is funded by VicHealth. Sugiyama is supported by the NHMRC (PhD scholarship within Centre of Research Excellence) and the National Institute of Health (research subcontract from UC San Diego).

Compliance with Ethics Guidelines

Conflict of Interest

Takemi Sugiyama is employed by the University of South Australia, and he has received honoraria from the University of Sydney for a PhD Thesis review.

Mohammad Javad Koohsari is employed by Baker IDI Heart & Diabetes.

Suzanne Mavoa is employed by the University of Melbourne and Massey University.

Neville Owen is employed by Baker IDI Heart & Diabetes; he has received book royalties from Sage publishers; he has received travel/accommodations expenses covered or reimbursed from University of British Colombia; American Institute for Cancer Research.

Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent

This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.


Papers of particular interest, published recently, have been highlighted as: • Of importance •• Of major importance

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Takemi Sugiyama
    • 1
    • 2
  • Mohammad Javad Koohsari
    • 2
    • 3
  • Suzanne Mavoa
    • 3
    • 4
    • 5
  • Neville Owen
    • 2
    • 5
    • 6
    • 7
    Email author
  1. 1.Social Epidemiology and Evaluation Research Group, Sansom Institute for Health Research & School of Population HealthUniversity of South AustraliaAdelaideAustralia
  2. 2.Behavioural Epidemiology LaboratoryBaker IDI Heart and Diabetes InstituteMelbourneAustralia
  3. 3.McCaughey VicHealth Centre for Community Wellbeing, Melbourne School of Population and Global HealthUniversity of MelbourneMelbourneAustralia
  4. 4.SHORE & Whariki Research Centre, School of HealthMassey UniversityAucklandNew Zealand
  5. 5.Melbourne School of Population and Global HealthUniversity of MelbourneMelbourneAustralia
  6. 6.School of Population HealthThe University of QueenslandBrisbaneAustralia
  7. 7.Department of MedicineMonash UniversityMelbourneAustralia

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