University Of Tasmania
148101 - a spatial analysis of access.pdf (4.36 MB)

A spatial analysis of access to physical activity infrastructure and healthy food in regional Tasmania

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Prevalence of physical inactivity and obesity continues to increase in regional areas such as North-West (NW) Tasmania and show no signs of abating. It is possible that limited access to physical activity infrastructure (PAI) and healthier food options are exacerbating the low levels of habitual physical activity and obesity prevalence in these communities. Despite a burgeoning research base, concomitant exploration of both physical activity and food environments in rural and regional areas remain scarce. This research evaluated access (i.e., coverage, variety, density, and proximity) to physical activity resources and food outlets in relation to socioeconomic status (SES) in three NW Tasmanian communities. In all three study areas, the PAI and food outlets were largely concentrated in the main urban areas with most recreational tracks and natural amenities located along the coastline or river areas. Circular Head had the lowest total number of PAI (n = 43) but a greater proportion (30%) of free-to-access outdoor amenities. There was marked variation in accessibility to infrastructure across different areas of disadvantage within and between sites. For a considerable proportion of the population, free-to-access natural amenities/green spaces and recreational tracks (73 and 57%, respectively) were beyond 800 m from their households. In relation to food accessibility, only a small proportion of the food outlets across the region sells predominantly healthy (i.e., Tier 1) foods (∼6, 13, and 10% in Burnie, Circular Head and Devonport, respectively). Similarly, only a small proportion of the residents are within a reasonable walking distance (i.e., 5–10 min walk) from outlets. In contrast, a much larger proportion of residents lived close to food outlets selling predominantly energy-dense, highly processed food (i.e., Tier 2 outlets). Circular Head had at least twice as many Tier 1 food stores per capita than Devonport and Burnie (0.23 vs. 0.10 and 0.06; respectively) despite recording the highest average distance (4.35 and 5.66 km to Tier 2/Tier 1 stores) to a food outlet. As such, it is possible that both food and physical activity environment layouts in each site are contributing to the obesogenic nature of each community.


Publication title

Frontiers in Public Health








School of Health Sciences


Frontiers Research Foundation

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Rights statement

Copyright © 2021 Jayasinghe, Flies, Soward, Kendal, Kilpatrick, Holloway, Patterson, Ahuja, Hughes, Byrne and Hills. . This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) License ( The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

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  • Open

Socio-economic Objectives

Rural and remote area health

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