Walkable Neighborhoods Harbor Less Obesity
Reported August 01, 2008
(Ivanhoe Newswire) — Want to shed those extra pounds? Then move to a pedestrian-friendly neighborhood!
People who live in neighborhoods where walking is the norm weigh significantly less than people who live in neighborhoods where walking is more inconvenient, report University of Utah researchers who matched body mass index data on nearly 454,000 people to census data on where they lived.
For the most part, pedestrian-friendly neighborhoods — those with workplaces, stores, and other destinations close by — were mainly built before 1950. Newer neighborhoods were more likely to favor travel by car.
“Neighborhoods with higher fractions of residents that walk to work tell us that something beneficial about the neighborhood is promoting health,” study author Ken Smith was quoted as saying. “We expect these results mean that residents find walking more attractive and enjoyable where there are other walkers, a variety of destinations easily accessible by foot and pedestrian-friendly street networks.”
The average-sized man in a pedestrian-friendly neighborhood, for example, weighed 10 pounds less than the average-sized man in a less walkable neighborhood. For women, it was six pounds less.
“The data show that how and where we live can greatly affect our health,” emphasizes Smith. “People want to walk when it’s pleasant, convenient and when there is a destination.”
SOURCE: American Journal of Preventive Medicine, published online July 29, 2008