Childhood obesity and park acreage: does increasing public park acreage decrease childhood obesity rates in the neighborhoods of Denver, CO?

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Childhood obesity and park acreage: does increasing public park acreage decrease childhood obesity rates in the neighborhoods of Denver, CO?
Wold-McGimsey, Jack
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This research focuses on whether there is a relationship between park acreage in the neighborhoods of the city and county of Denver, CO, and neighborhood child Body Mass Index (BMI) rates, and hypothesized there would be a negative correlation between park acreage and childhood BMI with influences from demographic factors. To test whether a relationship existed, this study employed correlational analysis and linear regression models using childhood BMI data from the Colorado BMI Monitoring System and the “American Community Neighborhood Survey” census data, along with a GIS analysis of Denver neighborhood park acreage. The results appear to indicate that there is not a statistically signifigant relationship between park acreage and childhood BMI rates in the neighborhoods of Denver. There is a slight, albeit unclear, negative correlation between park acreage and childhood BMI rates, but the linear regression results were largely non-statistically signifigant and did not indicate the existence of a clear relationship between park acreage and child BMI rates. The key conclusions of this research are that more research must be done on Denver neighborhoods to determine with greater accuracy the factors that affect childhood obesity, and that a clear relationship between park acreage and childhood BMI rates is not reliably discernable. The policy implications of these findings are that policy makers or public health initiatives will not be able to rely on a clear and direct relationship between park acreage and childhood BMI rates in Denver neighborhoods, and policy should not be designed with this assumption without further research.
Collected for Auraria Institutional Repository by the Self-Submittal tool. Submitted by Jack Wold-McGimsey.
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This research poster was created by Jack Wold-McGimsey, a graduate student presenter, for the 2019 Data to Policy symposium hosted by the Auraria library.

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University of Colorado Denver
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Auraria Library
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Jack Wold McGimsey Research Methods PUAD 5003, Professor Serena Kim I N T R O DUC T I O N This research studies the relationship between park acreage and childhood overweight and obesity rates, throughout the 78 neighborhoods of the city and county of Denver, CO (see better understanding of how obesity rates can be affected by varying factors like public parks can allow for better prevention, response and treatment efforts. Denver policy makers specifically will be able to use this information for more informed city planning and tailored public health initiatives. RESEARCH QUESTION HYPOTHESIS Does the total acreage of public parks in a Denver neighborhood have an affect on childhood obesity rates? The hypothesis associated with this question is that there will be a negative correlation between park acreage and childhood obesity, though the relationship will be heavily dependent on demographic factors. M E T H O DS Using the statistical software Stata, correlational analyses and linear regression tests were used to analyze the relationships between park acreage and childhood obesity rates, while controlling for demographic factors as best as possible. This was the most accurate means of determining whether a statistically signifigant relationship exists given the nature of these datasets, and is in line with previous empirical research. The analysis included every neighborhood in Denver except five due to a lack of BMI data. Auroria , CBD, Civic Center, Country Club and Cory Merril were excluded, for an analysis of 73 total observations of Denver neighborhoods. The results for females also had to be dropped from the regression analysis due to collinearity issues. Three separate linear regressions were run, one for childhood overweight and obese rates and two for separately calculated overweight and obese child rates (see Table 1). RESULTS CONTINUED In all three regressions, having a High School or equivalent education had a positive relationship with increased BMI rates, though other education levels did not share these clear relationships so it is hard to Table 2). These were the only statistically signifigant findings. The lack of conclusive results indicates that while there is a relationship between park acreage and BMI rates in children, more analysis will need to be done to determine exactly what variables play a role, and the magnitude of these relationships, before policy decisions can be made. POLICY IMPLICATIONS For policymakers, the conclusions of this study indicate that adding greater numbers of park acres in a neighborhood may not affect childhood BMI rates in a direct manner. Rather, their attention may need to be directed to other areas in order for their public health identify what these alternative focuses may be unfortunately. Rather, the key lesson is that city planners and public health initiatives in Denver will not be able to rely on a clear relationship between increases in park acreage and a decrease in childhood obesity rates. More than anything, this study indicates that more research on Denver specifically, and the complex factors that can affect childhood obesity in this context, are needed to inform city planning, policy making and public health efforts. CHILDHOOD OBESITY AND PARK ACREAGE DOES INCREASING PUBLIC PARK ACREAGE DECREASE CHILDHOOD OBESITY RATES IN THE NEIGHBORHOODS OF DENVER, CO? RESULTS Overall, the results appear to argue that park acreage does not have a statistically signifigant effect on childhood obesity rates in the neighborhoods of Denver. Though there is a clear, albeit very slight, negative correlation between park acreage and childhood BM I rates (see Table 2 and Figure 3). These results are largely in line with previous research. While all three tests had P > F values that were statistically signifigant (0.0), indicating that the independent variables (obesity/overweight, obesity, overweight rates) can be explained by the tested dependent variables, very few of the individual dependent variable coefficients were statistically signifigant, with P values well above the .005 confidence level threshold (see Table 1). CONCLUSION The biggest takeaway from this research is that more study is needed before we can conclusively say what factors affect Denver correlation between park acreage and childhood BMI rates, with such unclear results more analysis and study will be necessary to come to firm conclusions. Any number of the controlling demographic factors or unconsidered variables, like numbers of fast food restaurants in a neighborhood, healthy food options or neighborhood safety rates could have important roles that must be considered in future studies. DATA SOURCES Several publicly available secondary data resources were used to analyze the relationship between park acreage and childhood obesity rates in Denver. The childhood obesity data ( 2016). Data Catalog, was used to analyze neighborhood demographic data (2018). Finally, in collaboration with CU the GI S software ArcGIS 10.3 was used to analyze the square acreage of parks per Denver neighborhood (personal communication, November 22, 2019). EMPIRICAL RESEARCH REVIEW Overall, increasing the number of parks and green spaces in an area appears to reduce child Body Mass Index ( BMI), though the extent of these changes varies ( Alexander et al. 2013; Babette C van et al., 2018; Fan & Jin , 2014; Hughey et al. 2016; Potestio et al. 2009; Saelens et al., 2012; Wolch et al., 2011). Some studies have found very a very small impact between parks and childhood obesity rates (Babette C van 2018; Potestio et al. 2009). Other studies have found that park acreage has a strong effect on childhood obesity (Fan & Jin 2014; Saelens et al. 2012). Most studies have found that demographic factors have a large effects on the results of their studies, though studies differ on the magnitude of these effects (Alexander et al. 2013; Fan & Jin 2014; Hughey et al. 2016; Saelens et al. 2012). Table 1 Linear Regression Results Table 2 Correlation Results Figure 2 Neighborhood Overweight/Obese Rates Correlation with Neighborhood Park Acreage Figure 1 REFERENCES 1. Alexander, D. S., Brunner Huber, L. R., Piper, C. R. & Tanner, A. E. (2013, May). The association between recreational parks, fa cilities and childhood obesity: A cross sectional study of the 2007 national survey of children's health. Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health . 67(5) . 427 431. 2. Nbrhd (2010 Denver Open Data Catalog. Retrieved from community_survey_nbrhd_2010_2014/csv/american_commun ity _survey_nbrhd_2010_2014.csv 3. Babette C van, D. Z., Schalkwijk , A.A. H., Elders, P. J. M., Platt, L., & Nijpels , G. (2018). Does environment influence childhood BMI? A longitudinal analysis of children aged 3 11. Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, 72 (12), 1110 1116. doi:http :// 2018 210701 4. Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. Retrieved from _system/assets/ data_download /CO_BMI_Monitoring_System_DenverCountyNeighborhoods_Adults_ChildrenYouth_2014_2016.xlsx 5. Denver Maps: Neighborhoods . Retrieved from 6. Fan, M., & Jin , Y. (2014, January). Do neighborhood parks and playgrounds reduce childhood obesity? American Journal of Agricultural Economics . 96(1). 26 42. Retrieved from https://doi 7. Hughey, M. S., Kaczynski, A. T., Child, S., Moore, J. B., Porter, D. & Hibbert, J. (2016, December 6). Green and lean: Is nei ghb orhood park and playground availability associated with youth obesity? Variations by gender, socioeconomic status, and race/e thn icity. Preventative Medicine. 95, s 101 s108. 8. Potestio , M.L., Patel, A.B., Powell, C.D. McNeil, D. A., Jacobson, D. R. & McLaren, L. (2009). Is there an association between spatia l a ccess to parks/green space and childhood overweight/obesity in Calgary, Canada? International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity. 6(77). doi:10.1186/1479 5868 6 77 9. Saelens , B. E., Sallis ld and parent obesity: The neighborhood impact on kids study. American Journal of Preventive Medicine . 42(5). e57 e64. 10. Wolch , J. Jerrett , M., Reynolds, K., McConnell, R., Chang, R., Dahmann t s tudy. Health and Place. 17(1). 207 214.