Open Access Open Badges Research

Are neighbourhood social capital and availability of sports facilities related to sports participation among Dutch adolescents?

Richard G Prins1*, Sigrid M Mohnen2, Frank J van Lenthe1, Johannes Brug3 and Anke Oenema14

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Public Health, Erasmus University Medical Center, P.O. Box 2040, 3000 CA, Rotterdam, The Netherlands

2 National Institute for Public Health and the Environment, Centre for Prevention and Health Services Research, PO Box 1, 3720 BA, Bilthoven, The Netherlands

3 EMGO Institute for Health and Care Research and the Department of Epidemiology & Biostatistics, VU University Medical Center, Amsterdam, the Netherlands

4 Department of Health Promotion, Maastricht University, Maastricht, the Netherlands

For all author emails, please log on.

International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity 2012, 9:90  doi:10.1186/1479-5868-9-90

Published: 31 July 2012



The aim of this study is to explore whether availability of sports facilities, parks, and neighbourhood social capital (NSC) and their interaction are associated with leisure time sports participation among Dutch adolescents.


Cross-sectional analyses were conducted on complete data from the last wave of the YouRAction evaluation trial. Adolescents (nā€‰=ā€‰852) completed a questionnaire asking for sports participation, perceived NSC and demographics. Ecometric methods were used to aggregate perceived NSC to zip code level. Availability of sports facilities and parks was assessed by means of geographic information systems within the zip-code area and within a 1600 meter buffer. Multilevel logistic regression analyses, with neighborhood and individual as levels, were conducted to examine associations between physical and social environmental factors and leisure time sports participation. Simple slopes analysis was conducted to decompose interaction effects.


NSC was significantly associated with sports participation (OR: 3.51 (95%CI: 1.18;10.41)) after adjustment for potential confounders. Availability of sports facilities and availability of parks were not associated with sports participation. A significant interaction between NSC and density of parks within the neighbourhood area (OR: 1.22 (90%CI: 1.01;1.34)) was found. Decomposition of the interaction term showed that adolescents were most likely to engage in leisure time sports when both availability of parks and NSC were highest.


The results of this study indicate that leisure time sports participation is associated with levels of NSC, but not with availability of parks or sports facilities. In addition, NSC and availability of parks in the zip code area interacted in such a way that leisure time sports participation is most likely among adolescents living in zip code areas with higher levels of NSC, and higher availability of parks. Hence, availability of parks appears only to be important for leisure time sports participation when NSC is high.

Sport; Adolescent; Neighbourhood social capital; Social environment; Physical environment; Availability; Parks; Interaction