March 29, 2004

Does Where You Live Affect Your Waistline?

The University of Minnesota is launching a study to investigate "the relationship between how neighborhoods are built and how much walking people do," the Pioneer Press reports.

Your neighborhood environment may be a key factor in how much you choose to walk instead of drive, Kathryn Schmitz, assistant professor in the university's School of Public Health, told the paper.

"Are trees more important (to walkers) than street lights? Are short blocks more important than being separated from cars?'' she said, according to the article.

"The study, paid for by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation of New Jersey, may identify factors that can be used by urban planners," the article notes. The hope is that results will help planners not only create more appealing communities, but help in the fight against obesity, diabetes and heart disease.

The foundation sponsored earlier research that showed a link between suburban sprawl, activity levels and obesity (see report, PDF format).

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