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Could Your Suburb Make You Fat?

Could Your Suburb Make You Fat?
Does the area you live in make you more or less healthy? New research from the Australian Catholic University Institute for Health and Ageing, found that locale is linked to obesity levels.

Specifically, people who live in outer suburbs tend to gain weight more rapidly than people living in the city. The reason? It could be that people who live further out rely on their cars more to get around.

Lead researcher Takemi Sugiyama explained:

"We tracked more than 2,000 adults living in urban and suburban areas of Adelaide and measured their waist circumference twice over four years. What we found was that weight gain was not evenly distributed.

"Our daily behaviours, such as commuting to work and shopping, can contribute to obesity over time ... and people living in outer suburbs tend to rely on cars and are much more sedentary for these daily tasks.

"In contrast, people living in inner city areas appear to be more active, maybe because they have more transportation options and shops are closer," he said.

What can be done?

Since the results were published, news outlets including the ABC and Sydney Morning Herald have quoted experts to say Australia needs to re-think its urban development plan. So we can build better, more active cities that are easier to get around on foot or bike.

An ABC article quoted Professor Sugiyama: “It's about creating compact residential and commercial areas around transportation hubs to allow for more active lifestyles for residents.

"We have to start thinking about urban sprawl and the negative health impacts because it can have a serious implications in the next decade.

"Obesity is going to increase if people live in outer suburbs, and obesity is a major risk factor for chronic conditions such as heart disease, diabetes and cancers."

In another article, he said “Expanding the urban growth boundary without providing infrastructure supporting active lifestyles such as public transport, local shops, and open spaces can pose a serious threat to public health over the medium-to-long term."

Topic: Wellbeing