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The design of neighbourhoods can influence our health in various ways. It can affect how much physical activity we do, our access to nutritious food, where we work, our contact with nature, and the spaces we have for social interactions. These factors can affect health risk factors, such as obesity, and the associated risk of developing chronic conditions, such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

This report examines whether selected elements of the neighbourhood environment are associated with socioeconomic disadvantage and health risk factors. It explores how a person’s socioeconomic position and proximity from where they live to fast-food outlets, supermarkets, and public open spaces are associated with obesity, insufficient physical activity, insufficient fruit and vegetable consumption, and daily consumption of sugar sweetened drinks. The report uses the 2017–18 Australian Bureau of Statistics’ National Health Survey and looks only at Australian adults aged 18 and over.

This report shows that these factors do not necessarily account for the inequalities in health risk factors often observed for people living in the lowest socio-economic areas. While shorter commuting distances and increased population density were generally associated with lower prevalence of health risk factors, the relationship between health risk factors and proximity to amenities was complex.

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