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Walkable Neighborhood Health

July 3, 2014

Walkable neighborhoods may lower their residents’ risk of obesity and diabetes.



Maya-Anaïs Yataghène5283340695_96ed02aa41_z

How walkable is your neighborhood? (Maya-Anaïs Yataghène/Flickr)

Good neighborhoods for health. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

So called “walkable” neighborhoods – with dense populations and easy access to nearby stores – may curb their residents’ risk of obesity and diabetes. This according to endocrinologist Gillian Booth at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto.  She and her colleagues tracked obesity and diabetes trends in both walkable and sprawling neighborhoods.

GILLIAN BOOTH (St. Michael’s Hospital, Toronto):

People living in the most walkable areas had much lower rates of overweight and obesity, and the rates actually fell 9 percent over the 9-year period that we looked at.

In the least walkable areas, obesity rates went up 13 percent. The researchers found similar patterns for diabetes. They also controlled for factors like income and how healthy people were to begin with. Booth says that boosting walkability through better urban planning could have a significant public health impact. I’m Bob Hirshon for AAAS, the Science Society.