WP4 Promoting School Children’s Physical Activity by Change in Transport to School Behaviour - Data Collection and Analysis

WP4, the state of the art of the topic mostly include how the built environment influences children’s physical activity and mobility habits. Some aspects of the topic have less presence in the literature. These gaps are considered as the innovative aspects of the study done in WP4, which include the following:

§ Topic: The connections of urban form, travels, and children’s obesity is a topic that still needs clarification in the European context or internationally. Since the children’s age range targeted in this study in very narrow (only 3 years), and the topic focuses partially on obesity and BMI, not some many studies can be found that address all the aspects of this study. The topics of most of the similar studies remain as general as the effects of urban environment on the commute behaviors of children and adolescents. So the effects on obesity have remained less-researched.

§ Geographical contexts: most of the existing literature and previous experiences have been done in countries like the UK, German, Netherlands, etc. Other European counties are either absent in the related research or they are under-studied. Some of the partners of this project like Greece, Turkey, Croatia, etc. are among European countries about which little knowledge about the correlations of urban form, urban travel behavior, children’s physical activity and obesity have been generated. The connections with 9 to 12-year old children with obesity are not completely clear even in UK, German, and the Netherlands. Therefore, production of a holistic approach to 8 European countries will help a wide range of states to use the results according to the similarities to the pilot cities and countries of this project.

Comparative study: Another aspect of this study that is innovative and has been investigated very little is the comparison between the effects of urban form and walkability on children’s physical activity and obesity caused by walking and biking to school in different European countries. Studies focusing on these dissimilarities are rare. It would be interesting to know if the urban structure and urban commuting status has more critical effects on the physical activity and obesity of children in wealthier states like Germany, the Netherlands, and Italy compared to other partner countries. This part can be in relation with higher car ownership and car use rates in more developed countries.

Table 3.1: The pilot cities considered in WP4 of MAPS

No. Pilot City Country Population (Thousand Inhabitants) Partner Responsible for Data Collection
1 Pisa IT 89 P1
2 Berlin DE 3500 P2
3 Thessaloniki GR 385 P3
4 Rijeka HR 213 P4
5 Utrecht NL 330 P5
6 Łódź PL 1000 P6
7 Bragança PT 35 P7
8 Malatya TR 770 P8