SCIENTIA GEOGRAPHICA SINICA ›› 2022, Vol. 42 ›› Issue (5): 938-950.doi: 10.13249/j.cnki.sgs.2022.05.019

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Examining the Effects of the Multi-scale Pedestrian Environment on Obesity: An Empirical Study of Guangzhou

Yang Wenyue(), Zhen Xinyu   

  1. College of Forestry and Landscape Architecture, South China Agricultural University, Guangzhou 510642, Guangdong, China
  • Received:2021-01-19 Revised:2021-04-11 Online:2022-05-25 Published:2022-07-11
  • Supported by:
    National Natural Science Foundation of China(41701169);Natural Science Foundation of Guangdong Province General Program(2022A1515011259);Science and Technology Program of Guangzhou, China(202102021041)


Numerous studies have explored the effects of built environments on individual body mass index (BMI). However, fewer studies have considered the comprehensive effects of different scales of the pedestrian environment (including walkability and other built environment factors related to walking) and other mediating factors. How does the pedestrian environment affect individual obesity? Does the pedestrian environment at different geographic scales have a different impact on obesity? To address these issues, this paper constructs structural equation models (SEMs) based on 1 470 questionnaire data of 18 neighborhoods in Guangzhou in 2019 to explore the effects of the pedestrian environment on residents being obese at three geographic scales (i.e., neighborhood, 1 000 m buffer of neighborhood boundary, and sub-district). The study found that residents’ travel attitudes and preferences will affect commuting behavior, but they have no significant direct impact on obesity. After controlling residents’ socio-economic attributes and their travel attitudes and preferences, the pedestrian environment around the residences has a significant negative total effect on residents’ BMI. Part of this total effect is from direct effect, while part is from indirect effect through affecting mediating factors like commute mode, commute distance, and daily walking. The impact of the pedestrian environment on residents’ BMI has a scale effect, and the impact of walkability at the neighborhood scale is the most significant, which has both a direct effect and an indirect effect. In contrast, the walkability at the sub-district scale has no significant effect on residents’ BMI. This indicates that to build a healthy community and improve residents’ health, land use planning and transport policies should pay more attention to the walking range closely related to residents’ daily activities, that is, the 15-minute living circle. Other built environments related to walking, such as different scales of greenness, road network density, metro station density, and distance to the city center, have varying degrees of impact on residents’ BMI. Specifically, increasing the greenness exposure in residential areas, such as building new neighborhood parks, adding green spaces in front of and behind the building and green spaces by the street-side to improve the level of environmental greening, increasing road network density and street connectivity, are conducive to encouraging residents to walk more and use non-motorized modes and public transport to commute, thereby reducing the risk of obesity in residents. Compared with buses, increasing the coverage of the metro network is more useful to promote public transport travel and has a positive effect on reducing the risk of obesity.

Key words: pedestrian environment, walkability, obesity, scale, structural equation model

CLC Number: 

  • TU984