Background Most UK adolescents do not achieve recommended levels of physical activity (PA). Previous studies suggest that the social environment could contribute to inequalities in PA behaviours, but longitudinal evidence is limited. We examined whether neighbourhood trust and social support were longitudinally associated with four common forms of PA: walking to school, walking for leisure, outdoor PA and pay and play PA. We further assessed whether gender moderated these associations.
Methods We used longitudinal data from the Olympic Regeneration in East London (ORiEL) study. In 2012, 3106 adolescents aged 11–12 were enrolled from 25 schools in four deprived boroughs of East London, UK. Adolescents were followed-up in 2013 and 2014. The final sample includes 2664 participants interviewed at waves 2 and 3. We estimated logistic regression models using generalised estimating equations (GEEs) (pooled models) and proportional odds models (models of change) to assess associations between the social environment exposures and the PA outcomes, adjusting for potential confounders. Item non-response was handled using multilevel multiple imputation.
Results We found that different aspects of the social environment predict different types of PA. Neighbourhood trust was positively associated with leisure-type PA. Social support from friends and family was positively associated with walking for leisure. There was some evidence that changes in exposures led to changes in the PA outcomes. Associations did not systematically differ by gender.
Conclusion These results confirm the importance of the social environment to predict PA and its change over time in a deprived and ethnically diverse adolescent population.
- PHYSICAL ACTIVITY
- SOCIAL EPIDEMIOLOGY
- HEALTH BEHAVIOUR
- PUBLIC HEALTH
- SOCIAL CAPITAL
- SOCIAL SUPPORT
- SOCIAL ENVIRONMENT
- SOCIAL COHESION
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Contributors NB conceived of the study, designed and executed the statistical analyses and drafted the manuscript. MQ and ENN advised the statistical analyses and contributed to the interpretation of data. DL and SC supervised all aspects of data processing and analysis and guided the design of this study. All authors critically revised the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.
Funding NB was supported by the Economic and Social Research Council (Grant No. 1482460). The ORiEL study was funded by the NIHR Public Health Research Programme (Grant No. 09/3005/09 to SC). The funding source had no role in the writing of this article nor the decision to submit it for publication.
Competing interests None declared.
Patient consent for publication Not required.
Data sharing statement Data are available upon reasonable request.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.