Neighborhood Walkability and Mortality in a Prospective Cohort of Women

Sandra India-Aldana, Andrew G. Rundle, Anne Zeleniuch-Jacquotte, James W. Quinn, Byoungjun Kim, Yelena Afanasyeva, Tess V. Clendenen, Karen L. Koenig, Mengling Liu, Kathryn M. Neckerman, Lorna E. Thorpe, Yu Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: There is a paucity of prospective cohort studies evaluating neighborhood walkability in relation to the risk of death. Methods: We geocoded baseline residential addresses of 13,832 women in the New York University Women's Health Study (NYUWHS) and estimated the Built Environment and Health Neighborhood Walkability Index (BEH-NWI) for each participant circa 1990. The participants were recruited from 1985 to 1991 in New York City and followed for an average of 27 years. We conducted survival analyses using Cox proportional hazards models to assess the association between neighborhood walkability and risk of death from any cause, obesity-related diseases, cardiometabolic diseases, and obesity-related cancers. Results: Residing in a neighborhood with a higher neighborhood walkability score was associated with a lower mortality rate. Comparing women in the top versus the lowest walkability tertile, the hazards ratios (and 95% CIs) were 0.96 (0.93, 0.99) for all-cause, 0.91 (0.86, 0.97) for obesity-related disease, and 0.72 (0.62, 0.85) for obesity-related cancer mortality, respectively, adjusting for potential confounders at both the individual and neighborhood level. We found no association between neighborhood walkability and risk of death from cardiometabolic diseases. Results were similar in analyses censoring participants who moved during follow-up, using multiple imputation for missing covariates, and using propensity scores matching women with high and low neighborhood walkability on potential confounders. Exploratory analyses indicate that outdoor walking and average BMI mediated the association between neighborhood walkability and mortality. Conclusion: Our findings are consistent with a protective role of neighborhood walkability in obesity-related mortality in women, particularly obesity-related cancer mortality.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)763-772
Number of pages10
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 1 2021


  • All-cause mortality
  • Neighborhood walkability
  • Obesity-related cancer mortality
  • Obesity-related mortality
  • Urban health
  • Women's health

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology


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