Perceptions of the Built Environment and Support for Policies That Promote Physical Activity

UMMS Affiliation

Department of Population and Quantitative Health Sciences, Division of Preventive and Behavioral Medicine; UMass Worcester Prevention Research Center

Publication Date


Document Type



Behavioral Medicine | Community Health and Preventive Medicine | Health Policy | Preventive Medicine | Public Policy | Recreation, Parks and Tourism Administration


BACKGROUND: To assess how perceptions of the community built environment influence support for community policies that promote physical activity (PA).

METHODS: A national cross-sectional survey assessed perceptions of the local built environment and support of community policies, including school and workplace policies, promoting PA. A random digit-dialed telephone survey was conducted in US counties selected on Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System data for high or low prevalence of obesity and inactivity. A total of 1208 subjects were interviewed, 642 from high-prevalence counties and 566 from low-prevalence counties. Analyses were stratified by county prevalence of obesity and inactivity (high or low). Linear models adjusted for covariates were constructed to assess the influence of built environment perceptions on policy support.

RESULTS: Perception of more destinations near the residence was associated with increased support for community policies that promote PA, including tax increases in low-prevalence (obesity and inactivity) counties (P < .01). Positive perception of the workplace environment was associated (P < .001) with increased support for workplace policies among those in high-, but not low-, prevalence counties.

CONCLUSIONS: Support for community policies promoting PA varies by perception of the built environment, which has implications for policy change.


health, obesity, policy, survey research

DOI of Published Version



J Phys Act Health. 2019 Sep 14:1-9. doi: 10.1123/jpah.2018-0174. Link to article on publisher's site

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Journal of physical activity and health

Related Resources

Link to Article in PubMed

PubMed ID