BackgroundThe built environment can affect health behaviours, but longitudinal evidence is limited. We aimed to examine the effect of moving into East Village, the former London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games Athletes' Village that was repurposed on active design principles, on adult physical activity and adiposity.
MethodsIn this cohort study, we recruited adults seeking new accommodation in East Village and compared physical activity and built environment measures with these data in control participants who had not moved to East Village. At baseline and after 2 years, we objectively measured physical activity with accelerometry and adiposity with body-mass index and bioimpedance, and we assessed objective measures of and participants' perceptions of change in their built environment. We examined the change in physical activity and adiposity between the East Village and control groups, after adjusting for sex, age group, ethnicity, housing tenure, and household (as a random effect).
FindingsWe recruited participants for baseline assessment between Jan 24, 2013, and Jan 7, 2016, and we followed up the cohort after 2 years, between Feb 24, 2015, and Oct 24, 2017. At baseline, 1819 households (one adult per household) consented to initial contact by the study team. 1278 adults (16 years and older) from 1006 (55%) households participated at baseline; of these participants, 877 (69%) adults from 710 (71%) households were assessed after 2 years, of whom 441 (50%) participants from 343 (48%) households had moved to East Village. We found no effect associated with moving to East Village on daily steps, the time spent doing moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (either in total or in 10-min bouts or more), daily sedentary time, body-mass index, or fat mass percentage between participants who had moved to East Village and those in the control group, despite sizeable improvements in walkability and neighbourhood perceptions of crime and quality among the East Village group relative to their original neighbourhood at baseline.
InterpretationDespite large improvements in neighbourhood perceptions and walkability, we found no clear evidence that moving to East Village was associated with increased physical activity. Improving the built environment on its own might be insufficient to increase physical activity.
FundingNational Institute for Health Research and National Prevention Research Initiative.