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Health Place. 2008 Dec;14(4):889-93. Epub 2007 Nov 19.

Do features of public open spaces vary according to neighbourhood socio-economic status?

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  • 1Centre for Physical Activity and Nutrition Research, Deakin University, Burwood, Australia.


This study examined the relations between neighbourhood socio-economic status and features of public open spaces (POS) hypothesised to influence children's physical activity. Data were from the first follow-up of the Children Living in Active Neighbourhoods (CLAN) Study, which involved 540 families of 5-6 and 10-12-year-old children in Melbourne, Australia. The Socio-Economic Index for Areas Index (SEIFA) of Relative Socio-economic Advantage/Disadvantage was used to assign a socioeconomic index score to each child's neighbourhood, based on postcode. Participant addresses were geocoded using a Geographic Information System. The Open Space 2002 spatial data set was used to identify all POS within an 800 m radius of each participant's home. The features of each of these POS (1497) were audited. Variability of POS features was examined across quintiles of neighbourhood SEIFA. Compared with POS in lower socioeconomic neighbourhoods, POS in the highest socioeconomic neighbourhoods had more amenities (e.g. picnic tables and drink fountains) and were more likely to have trees that provided shade, a water feature (e.g. pond, creek), walking and cycling paths, lighting, signage regarding dog access and signage restricting other activities. There were no differences across neighbourhoods in the number of playgrounds or the number of recreation facilities (e.g. number of sports catered for on courts and ovals, the presence of other facilities such as athletics tracks, skateboarding facility and swimming pool). This study suggests that POS in high socioeconomic neighbourhoods possess more features that are likely to promote physical activity amongst children.

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