Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Obesity Linked To Newer, Less Walkable Neighborhood

“The age of your neighborhood may influence your risk of obesity, according to a new study from the University of Utah. The study, to be published in the September issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, linked the body mass index (BMI) of nearly a half million Salt Lake County residents to 2000 Census data. The study found that residents were at less risk of being obese or overweight if they lived in walkable neighborhoods-those that are more densely populated, designed to be more friendly to pedestrians and have a range of destinations for pedestrians. The study found that neighborhoods built before 1950 tended to offer greater overall walkability as they more often were designed with the pedestrian in mind, while newer neighborhoods often were designed to facilitate car travel. Demographer Ken Smith, co-author of the study and professor of family and consumer studies at the University of Utah, says that although individuals clearly make personal decisions that influence their weight, neighborhood characteristics also play a potentially important role in affecting residents' risk of obesity. ‘It is difficult for individuals to change their behavior,’ he says, ‘but we can build environments that promote healthy behavior.’”


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