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Member Research and Reports

Member Research and Reports

Taiwan Researchers Find the Impact of Social-Cultural Factors and Features of Neighborhood Environment on Physical Inactivity across Taiwan, China and South Korea

In Asia, urbanization generally carries with it a higher income, a shift in work style, and a change of residential location. People are exchanging more labor-intensive occupations in rural industries for sedentary jobs in urban areas. Consequently, such transition has led to increasing physical inactivity. Very few cross-country analyses exist that explore these patterns and variations. This study examines the associations between physical inactivity and social identity factors, such as objective socio-economic position, perceived social status, as well as neighborhood quality while controlling for psychosocial and physical health. The study is led by director and professor Dr. Duan-Rung Chen, and project assistant professor Dr. Yi-Ching Lin of Institute of Health Behaviors and Community Sciences in National Taiwan University. The study has been published in Health and Place in June.

This study utilizes nationally representative samples of adults living in urban areas from the East Asian Social Survey. The Multivariate nested logistic regression models on physical inactivity were conducted.

The analyses show that Chinese reported highest average probability of physical inactivity after controlling for all confounding variables (mean 0.61, SD 0.15), followed by South Koreans (mean 0.50, SD 0.13) and Taiwanese (mean 0.49,SD 0.11). “The findings indicate that perceived social status was positively associated with physical activity. Gender difference in physical activity widened as educational levels increased. Class division in physical inactivity was also found. Perceived features of neighborhood such as suitability for walking and jogging, air quality, and help from neighbors were to different degrees associated with physical inactivity in these East Asian countries”, and “the association is particularly significant for Chinese”, said by Dr. Chen. These findings suggest cultural-behavioral norms for physical activity, and call for more studies on health behaviors in cross-cultural contexts.