Publication Details

Mayne, D. J., Morgan, G. G., Jalaludin, B. B. & Bauman, A. E. (2019). Area-Level Walkability and the Geographic Distribution of High Body Mass in Sydney, Australia: A Spatial Analysis Using the 45 and Up Study. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 16 (4), 664-1-664-29.


Improving the walkability of built environments to promote healthy lifestyles and reduce high body mass is increasingly considered in regional development plans. Walkability indexes have the potential to inform, benchmark and monitor these plans if they are associated with variation in body mass outcomes at spatial scales used for health and urban planning. We assessed relationships between area-level walkability and prevalence and geographic variation in overweight and obesity using an Australian population-based cohort comprising 92,157 Sydney respondents to the 45 and Up Study baseline survey between January 2006 and April 2009. Individual-level data on overweight and obesity were aggregated to 2006 Australian postal areas and analysed as a function of area-level Sydney Walkability Index quartiles using conditional auto regression spatial models adjusted for demographic, social, economic, health and socioeconomic factors. Both overweight and obesity were highly clustered with higher-than-expected prevalence concentrated in the urban sprawl region of western Sydney, and lower-than-expected prevalence in central and eastern Sydney. In fully adjusted spatial models, prevalence of overweight and obesity was 6% and 11% lower in medium-high versus low, and 10% and 15% lower in high versus low walkability postcodes, respectively. Postal area walkability explained approximately 20% and 9% of the excess spatial variation in overweight and obesity that remained after accounting for other individual- and area-level factors. These findings provide support for the potential of area-level walkability indexes to inform, benchmark and monitor regional plans aimed at targeted approaches to reducing population-levels of high body mass through environmental interventions. Future research should consider potential confounding due to neighbourhood self-selection on area-level walkability relations.



Link to publisher version (DOI)