Conferences, Proceedings of the 3rd National Local Government Research Forum

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Exploring interventions in urban form which can enable better population health
Brydie Clarke, Terry Jenvey, Nicole Vickridge

Last modified: 2014-01-16


Knox City Council is one of 12 sites in Victoria where the ‘Healthy Together Communities’ Initiative is being delivered. Focusing primarily on reducing rates of obesity, physical inactivity, smoking and alcohol misuse, this initiative aims to use a systems approach to support healthy behaviours. This has prompted further investigation by Knox City Council into how its built environment may be influencing the health of its residents. The purpose of this study was to examine the urban form of two suburbs within the municipality, Wantirna–Wantirna South and Rowville, to identify how it can influence the rates of physical activity and therefore also potentially the rates of overweight and obesity. This comparative case study investigation used an exploratory, observational approach to understand how differences in urban form (i.e. land use mix, transportation networks, access to green space) may influence PA. It found that Wantirna–Wantirna South did not differ remarkably from Rowville in terms of social and other demographic characteristics. However, there were numerous small but cumulative differences across suburbs which may be influencing the rate of incidental physical activity. These included size of dwellings, land-use zoning, density of playgrounds, and modes of transport (i.e. active or motorised). Differences in the built form existed between the two suburbs which may, in part, explain the increased risk of obesity in Rowville. Future strategic and urban planning decisions for the suburb of Rowville and City of Knox should consider the potential impact upon the health of the population.

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