Do “Walkable” Neighborhoods Reduce Obesity, Diabetes?

ADA: San Francisco, California June 17, 2014

Studies show more sprawl associated with higher incidence of poor health outcomes

People who live in neighborhoods that are conducive to walking experienced a substantially lower rate of obesity, overweight and diabetes than those who lived in more auto-dependent neighborhoods, according to a pair of studies presented at the American Diabetes Association’s 74th Scientific Sessions®.

Researchers in Canada compared adults living in the most and least “walkable” metropolitan areas in southern Ontario and found a lower risk of developing diabetes over a 10-year period for those who lived in neighborhoods with less sprawl, more interconnectivity among streets, and more local stores and services within walking distance, among other measures used to determine a neighborhood’s “walkability.” The researchers controlled for variables, such as health at baseline, in order to rule out the probability that healthier people were choosing more walkable neighborhoods to begin with. A second study that compared neighborhoods, not individuals, found that the most walkable neighborhoods had the lowest incidence of obesity, overweight and diabetes. Read More