Street connectivity, defined as the number of (3-way or more) intersections per area unit, is an important index of built environments as a proxy for walkability in a neighborhood. This paper examines its geographic variations across the rural-urban continuum (urbanicity), major racial-ethnic groups and various poverty levels. The population-adjusted street connectivity index is proposed as a better measure than the regular index for a large area such as county due to likely concentration of population in limited space within the large area. Based on the data from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS), this paper uses multilevel modeling to analyze its association with physical activity and obesity while controlling for various individual- and county-level variables. Analysis of data subsets indicates that the influences of individual and county-level variables on obesity risk vary across areas of different urbanization levels. The positive influence of street connectivity on obesity control is limited to the more but not the mostly urbanized areas. This demonstrates the value of obesogenic environment research in different geographic settings, helps us reconcile and synthesize some seemingly contradictory results reported in different studies, and also promotes that effective policies need to be highly sensitive to the diversity of demographic groups and geographically adaptable. © 2013 Elsevier Ltd.
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