Access to Physical activity Opportunities and Links to Levels of Obesity in Scotland
A National Prevention Research Initiative Project



Obesity levels are rising with a simultaneous decline in physical activity (PA). Efforts to increase PA 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 PA amenities and resources) to influence PA levels and obesity. However, the precise mechanisms through which the UK environment can impact upon PA levels and obesity are not well understood. One potential contributory factor is the extent to which the availability of and access to facilities for PA is distributed equitably across different neighbourhoods. Most studies to date have been conducted in the USA or Australia, limiting their applicability to the UK.

Project Objectives

  • To determine whether or not the spatial distribution of fixed PA amenities varies by small area deprivation and to identify whether or not this differs by degree of urbanicity or rurality.

  • To identify the accessibility of fixed PA amenities by alternative modes of transport and to examine the extent to which this varies by area level deprivation.

  • To examine how people travel to fixed PA amenities in Scotland. Does this vary by gender, age, socioeconomic status, time of day, day of week or season?

  • To investigate whether or not access to fixed PA amenities is associated with PA or obesity and to identify whether or not this varies by age, gender, socioeconomic status or degree of urbanicity.