Findings on the relationship between play spaces and childhood overweight and obesity are mixed and scarce. This study aimed to investigate the associations between residential proximity to play spaces and the risk of childhood overweight or obesity and potential effect modifiers. This longitudinal study included children living in the city of Barcelona identified in an electronic primary healthcare record database between 2011 and 2018 (N = 75,608). Overweight and obesity were defined according to the WHO standards and we used 300 m network buffers to assess residential proximity to play spaces. We calculated the risk of developing overweight or obesity using Cox proportional hazard models. A share of 29.4% of the study population developed overweight or obesity, but we did not find consistent associations between play space indicators and overweight or obesity. We did not find any consistent sign of effect modification by sex, and only some indications of the modifying role of area socioeconomic status and level of exposure. Although it is not possible to draw clear conclusions from our study, we call for cities to continue increasing and improving urban play spaces with an equitable, healthy, and child-friendly perspective.

Original languageEnglish
Article number13676
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number20
Publication statusPublished - 21 Oct 2022


  • body mass index
  • built environment
  • childhood
  • obesity
  • overweight
  • park
  • play space
  • playground
  • urban health


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