Built Environment: Key Findings and Implications

Key Findings:

  •  The availability of food establishments and physical activity outlets are equally distributed throughout the region despite income inequalities among block groups.
  • The quality of these food outlets varies with less availability of healthy food options in stores and restaurants located in low-income areas with higher percentages of minorities.
  • There is also a lack of healthy food options offered on children’s menus at restaurants, especially in predominantly African-American block groups.
  • Schools represented a significant source of physical activity outlets in this region.
  • Rural environments contained mostly free physical activity outlets, making them more accessible to the public, however; these facilities may be of poorer quality.
  • Only 9.4% of surveyed participants in the Dan River Region meet physical activity recommendations and less than one third live within 400 meters of a physical activity outlet.


  • Potential and current residents of the Dan River region may think about the availability and accessibility of grocery stores and convenience stores when making housing and habitation decisions.
  • Policy makers can impact the built environment by encouraging the creation of healthier food outlets across the region and more food outlets in general to low-income, high-minority areas.
  • Practitioners should consider food  quality when making purchasing decisions.
  • City planners should assess the quality of park amenities for future improvement or development.
  • Schools and school administrators may want to consider the role their facilities may play in the health of their community, particularly in the outlying counties.
  • Barriers to physical activity, including distance, safety, and quality must be addressed in order to encourage widespread physical activity in community resources.
  • Funding agencies should consider investing in physical activity outlets in the region as well as opportunities to improve infrastructure that is conducive to activity (i.e. parks, trails, sidewalks, street lights, etc.)


For more detailed information on this research, along with links to publications, presentations, and community briefs, please click here.