Packing on a few unwanted pounds? You may want to move to an older neighborhood, say the authors of a new study, which will be published in the September issue of the American Journal of Preventative Medicine.
This study found a correlation between the age of a neighborhood and the obesity rate of its residents.
Using information culled from driver’s licenses, researchers calculated the body mass index of approximately 454,000 residents, aged 25 to 64, of Salt Lake County, Utah. They then compared these BMIs with those of other neighborhoods that they had rated according to their walker-friendly environments.
The results were intriguing.
As MSNBC reports:
The researchers found that older neighborhoods were both more walkable and had lower rates of overweight and obese people. For each decade older the neighborhood was, the risk of obesity dropped by about 8 percent in women and 13 percent in men.
Ken Smith, Professor at the University of Utah and co-author of the study, has an explanation for this. Because the older neighborhoods were built for walking, he says, and not for motorized transportation, they have sidewalks, trees, pleasant landscapes, and other amenities that encourage walking. Moreover, they tend to offer stores, restaurants, and other business establishments that are within walking distance of the residents.
The same is not true for neighborhoods built after 1950. These modern neighborhoods are filled with housing and little else, which forces residents to drive just about everywhere.
The resultant lower physical activity translates into higher poundage.
But the opposite is true for those who live in older neighborhoods. According to MSNBC:
The researchers [of the study] found that on average men weighed 10 pounds less if they lived in older, more walkable neighborhoods while women weighed about 6 pounds less.
So be careful where you live…your weight may depend on it.