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Health and the Physical Characteristics of Urban Neighbourhoods

Date: March 2007
Category: Report
Author: Karen Croucher, Lindsey Myers, Russell Jones, Anne Elleaway

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This review explores the evidence relating to the impact of the urban physical environment at neighbourhood level on health and wellbeing, levels of physical activity and obesity.
In undertaking this review a number of the methods associated with systematic reviewing
were applied. Complex search strategies were developed. Nine databases were searched.
A set of inclusion and exclusion criteria were applied to the studies identified by the
searches, and all potentially relevant studies were quality appraised. A total of 65 studies
have been included in this review. Most studies were undertaken in the USA with a smaller
literature from Australia, the UK, Europe, Canada, and Japan. Most were published in the
last five years. The majority of studies are cross-sectional in design and therefore cannot be
used to imply causal relationships, but they can and do demonstrate strong associations
between the built environment, health status, and health behaviours.