Neighborhood Environment Walkability Scale for Youth (NEWS-Y)

Reliability and Relationship With Physical Activity

The Neighborhood Environment Walkability Scale for Youth (NEWS-Y) reliably measures specific neighborhood characteristics that encourage young people to be more active.

The Neighborhood Environment Walkability Scale (NEWS) measures environmental characteristics that influence adult physical activity. NEWS-Y is a simplified version that examines physical activity among children and adolescents.

The objectives of this study were: 1) to assess the reliability of NEWS-Y measures, and 2) to use the NEWS-Y scales to examine youth physical activity in specific places. The authors used a test-retest design to determine the reliability of the NEWS-Y measures.

This study recruited parents and adolescents from the Boston, San Diego and Cincinnati areas. The NEWS-Y survey asked young people and parents (responding for their children) to rate the prevalence of environmental characteristics in their neighborhood. The survey questions also asked how often children and adolescents walked or exercised in streets, on the way to school, to shops, and in parks. The authors created an overall neighborhood environment score; higher scores indicated more walkable neighborhoods.

Key Findings:

  • The presence of recreational facilities led to increased physical activity in the streets.
  • Adolescents themselves and both groups of parents reported walking to a park at least once a week as the most common physical activity.
  • The perception of imminent crime deterred physical activity in the street.

Getting young people to exercise regularly will require an understanding of the factors that encourage physical activity. This study tested a survey instrument, NEWS-Y that assessed the relationship between the neighborhood environment and physical activity patterns among young people.