Weekend Schoolyard Accessibility, Physical Activity, and Obesity

The Trial of Activity in Adolescent Girls (TAAG) Study

Published in: Preventive Medicine, v. 44, no. 5, May 2007, p. 398-403

by Molly M. Scott, Deborah A. Cohen, Kelly R. Evenson, John Elder, Diane Catellier, J. Scott Ashwood, Adrian Overton

Read More

Access further information on this document at Preventive Medicine

This article was published outside of RAND. The full text of the article can be found at the link above.

OBJECTIVES: To assess the accessibility and suitability of schools as recreational sites and to determine whether they are associated with young adolescent girls' weekend metabolic equivalent-weighted moderate-to-vigorous physical activity and body mass index (BMI). METHODS: The authors drew a half-mile (0.805 km) radius around the residences of participants in the Trial of Activity for Adolescent Girls (n = 1556) in Maryland, South Carolina, Minnesota, Louisiana, California, and Arizona. The authors visited all schools and parks within the defined distance and documented their amenities and accessibility on Saturdays in Spring 2003. Staff gathered data on each girls' height and weight and used accelerometers to record weekend metabolic equivalent-weighted moderate-to-vigorous physical activity. RESULTS: Schools represented 44% of potential neighborhood sites for physical activity. However, a third of schools were inaccessible on the Saturday the authors visited. Neighborhoods with locked schools were primarily non-white, older, more densely populated, and of lower socioeconomic status. Though there was no relationship between school accessibility on Saturdays and weekend metabolic equivalent-weighted moderate-to-vigorous physical activity, the number of locked schools was associated with significantly higher body mass index. CONCLUSIONS: The lack of relationship between metabolic equivalent-weighted moderate-to-vigorous physical activity and school accessibility may imply that young adolescent girls do not identify schools as recreational resources. However, due to the association between body mass index and locked schools, efforts to stem the obesity epidemic should include making schools more accessible.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation External publication series. Many RAND studies are published in peer-reviewed scholarly journals, as chapters in commercial books, or as documents published by other organizations.

Our mission to help improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis is enabled through our core values of quality and objectivity and our unwavering commitment to the highest level of integrity and ethical behavior. To help ensure our research and analysis are rigorous, objective, and nonpartisan, we subject our research publications to a robust and exacting quality-assurance process; avoid both the appearance and reality of financial and other conflicts of interest through staff training, project screening, and a policy of mandatory disclosure; and pursue transparency in our research engagements through our commitment to the open publication of our research findings and recommendations, disclosure of the source of funding of published research, and policies to ensure intellectual independence. For more information, visit www.rand.org/about/research-integrity.

The RAND Corporation is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.