More Walkable Neighborhoods Show Lower Rates of Diabetes

Urban neighborhoods featuring a more walkable design showed decreased incidences of diabetes and obesity, according to a new study published in JAMA.

Researchers looked at healthcare data for adults between the ages of 30 and 64 who lived in urban neighborhoods in Ontario, Canada, from 2001 to 2012. For those that lived in the areas deemed most walkable, incidences of obesity and overweight adults were considerably lower than in neighborhoods that did not promote walking as easily.

In regard to diabetes rates, researchers looked at 8,777 neighborhoods and determined that the disease was both lower and declined during the 11-year span. In contrast, less walkable communities saw no change in diabetes rates.

Walkability

According to the study, a walkable neighborhood is defined as one designed by urban planners to promote physical activity. This includes destinations within walking distance of each other such as housing, schools, dining and retail stores. The more a resident is able to walk to each location within 10 minutes, the more walkable that neighborhood is deemed.

The study confirms previous findings that walking improves overall health and can help control blood sugar levels.

The results of the new study could help future urban planners design neighborhoods that place an emphasis on getting around the community via physical activities like walking, running and bicycling.

"The findings of the study provide further large-scale and longitudinal support for the hypothesis that urban design choices promoting pedestrian activity are associated with greater engagement in active transport (walking and cycling), lower prevalence of overweight/obesity, and lower diabetes incidence at the population level,” Dr. Andrew G. Rundle commented on the findings. “This study will make a prominent contribution to the research base that informs the urban design and health policy debates for years to come."

Source: JAMA Network

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