Availability of and access to physical activity opportunities and links with health behaviours and obesity among adults
Obesity levels are rising with a simultaneous decline in physical activity. Efforts to increase physical activity levels which focus upon changing individuals’ behaviour have had limited success. Increasing attention has therefore been directed towards the potential of the local environment (e.g. the availability of physical activity amenities and resources) to influence physical activity levels and obesity. However, the precise mechanisms through which the UK environment can impact upon physical activity levels and obesity are not well understood. One potential contributory factor is the extent to which the availability of and access to facilities for physical activity is distributed equitably across different neighbourhoods. Most studies to date have been conducted in the USA or Australia, limiting their applicability to the UK. In this proposed study, we intend to examine firstly, the extent to which there is equitable distribution of the availability and access (by different modes of transport) to physical activity opportunities; secondly, to examine if the distribution of opportunity is associated with physical activity levels; and thirdly, to determine if this, in turn, is associated with obesity. We propose to examine these questions in relation to the Scottish population, with a particular focus on adults and fixed PA facilities such as sports centres, swimming pools and green space. Knowledge of the extent to which access and use of physical activity facilities and associations with obesity is socially patterned is important for informing the direction and focus of public health and planning policy. This work in funded by the NPRI.