Development and validation of the neighborhood environment walkability scale for youth across six continents

Ester Cerin, Terry L. Conway, Anthony Barnett, Melody Smith, Jenny Veitch, Kelli L. Cain, Ferdinand Salonna, Rodrigo S. Reis, Javier Molina-García, Erica Hinckson, Wan Abdul Manan Wan Muda, Ranjit Mohan Anjana, Delfien Van Dyck, Adewale L. Oyeyemi, Anna Timperio, Lars Breum Christiansen, Josef Mitáš, Jorge Mota, Mika Moran, Mohammed Zakiul IslamRobin R. Mellecker, James F. Sallis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: The IPEN International Physical Activity and Environment Network Adolescent project was conducted using common study protocols to document the strength, shape, and generalizability of associations of perceived neighborhood environment attributes with adolescents' physical activity and overweight/obesity using data from 15 countries. Countries did not use identical versions of the Neighborhood Environment Walkability Scale for Youth (NEWS-Y) to measure perceived neighborhood environment attributes. Therefore, this study derived a measurement model for NEWS-Y items common to all IPEN Adolescent countries and developed a scoring protocol for the IPEN Adolescent version of the NEWS-Y (NEWS-Y-IPEN) that maximizes between-country comparability of responses. Additionally, this study examined between- and within-country variability, and construct validity of the NEWS-Y-IPEN subscales in relation to neighborhood-level socio-economic status and walkability. Methods: Adolescents and one of their parents (N = 5714 dyads) were recruited from neighborhoods varying in walkability and socio-economic status. To measure perceived neighborhood environment, 14 countries administered the NEWS-Y to parents and one country to adolescents. Confirmatory factor analysis was used to derive comparable country-specific measurement models of the NEWS-Y-IPEN. Country-specific standard deviations quantified within-country variability in the NEWS-Y-IPEN subscales, while linear mixed models determined the percentage of subscale variance due to between-country differences. To examine the construct validity of NEWS-Y-IPEN subscales, we estimated their associations with the categorical measures of area-level walkability and socio-economic status. Results: Final country-specific measurement models of the factor-analyzable NEWS-Y-IPEN items provided acceptable levels of fit to the data and shared the same factorial structure with five latent factors (Accessibility and walking facilities; Traffic safety; Pedestrian infrastructure and safety; Safety from crime; and Aesthetics). All subscales showed sufficient levels of within-country variability. Residential density had the highest level of between-country variability. Associations between NEWS-Y-IPEN subscales and area-level walkability and socio-economic status provided strong evidence of construct validity. Conclusions: A robust measurement model and common scoring protocol of NEWS-Y for the IPEN Adolescent project (NEWS-Y-IPEN) were derived. The NEWS-Y-IPEN possesses good factorial and construct validity, and is able to capture between-country variability in perceived neighborhood environments. Future studies employing NEWS-Y-IPEN should use the proposed scoring protocol to facilitate cross-study comparisons and interpretation of findings.

Original languageEnglish
Article number122
JournalInternational Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity
Issue number1
StatePublished - 3 Dec 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The International Physical Activity and the Environment Network (IPEN) Adolescent project was supported by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute–National Institutes of Health (NIH) (USA) [grant no. 5R01HL111378 02]. The Hong Kong study (iHealt(H)) was supported by the Health and Medical Research Fund (Food and Health Bureau, Government of the Hong Kong SAR, PR of China) [grant no. 10111501]. Data collection in the USA (TEAN Study) was funded by NIH Grant R01 HL083454. Data collection in New Zealand (BEANZ study) was funded by the Health Research Council (HRC) of New Zealand [grant no. HRC12/329]. The Spanish study (IPEN Adolescent-Spain) was supported partially by Generalitat Valenciana, Spain [grant no. GV-2013-087]. Data collection in Belgium was funded by the Research Foundation Flanders (FWO) [grant no. FWO12/ASP/102]. The Israeli study was supported by a grant from the Israel Science Foundation - ISF [grant no. 916/12]. Data collection in India (BE ACTIV India study) was supported by an in-house grant from Madras Diabetes Research Foundation (MDRF), Chennai. Data collection in the Czech Republic was funded by the Czech Science Foundation [grant nos. GA14-26896S and GA17-24378S]. Data collection in Brazil was supported by the Brazilian National Council for Scientific and Technological Development [grant no. 306836/2011–4]. MS is supported by a Health Research Council of New Zealand Sir Charles Hercus Research Fellowship [grant no. 17/013]. JV is supported by an Australian National Heart Foundation Future Leader Fellowship [grant no. ID101928]. AT was supported by a Future Leader Fellowship from the National Health Foundation of Australia [grant no. ID100046] during the conduct of this study. EC was supported by an Australian Research Council Future Fellowship [grant no. FT140100085].

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 The Author(s).


  • Adolescents
  • Built environment
  • Confirmatory factor analysis
  • Global
  • Pooled analyses
  • Questionnaire

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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