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Availability of Physical Activity-Related Facilities and Associated Neighborhood Demographic and Socioeconomic Characteristics

Powell LM, Slater S, Chaloupka FJ, Harper D. American Journal of Public Health, 96(9): 1676-1680, 2006.

Objectives: We examined associations between neighborhood demographic characteristics and the availability of commercial physical activity–related outlets by zip code across the United States.

Methods: Multivariate analyses were conducted to assess the availability of 4 types of outlets: (1) physical fitness facilities, (2) membership sports and recreation clubs, (3) dance facilities, and (4) public golf courses. Commercial outlet data were linked by zip code to US Census Bureau population and socioeconomic data.

Results: Results showed that commercial physical activity–related facilities were less likely to be present in lower-income neighborhoods and in neighborhoods with higher proportions of African American residents, residents with Hispanic ethnicity, and residents of other racial minority backgrounds. In addition, these neighborhoods had fewer such facilities available.

Conclusions: Lack of availability of facilities that enable and promote physical activity may, in part, underpin the lower levels of activity observed among populations of low socioeconomic status and minority backgrounds.

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