Key stakeholder perspectives on the development of walkable neighbourhoods

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Evidence supports the link between the built environment and physical activity. This study investigated factors that influence the decisions made by key stakeholders as they relate to neighbourhood development. Seventeen stakeholders including public health and municipal employees (n=9), city councillors (n=3), and the private sector (e.g., land developers, food retailers) (n=5), participated in interviews. Private sector participants considered healthy lifestyle choices (e.g., PA) to be related more to individual choice than did other groups. All groups agreed that consumer behaviour is essential to invoking change but did not agree on who is responsible for invoking change. Common barriers included financial costs, car dependency, and social norms. Facilitators included growing awareness of health and environmental issues and increasing buy-in from governing bodies for innovative neighbourhood development. More work is needed that acknowledges the differences between while integrating the diverse perspectives of those responsible for the planning of neighbourhoods that are conducive for physical activity.

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