Photo by Nathan Rupert via Flickr

More walkable neighborhoods, parks and public transit could reduce a person’s chance of becoming obese, according to a study conducted by researchers at the UC San Diego School of Medicine released Friday.

The study, published online in the British medical journal The Lancet, found that a neighborhood’s design could help reduce the rates of obesity, diabetes and heart disease.

Researchers found that people living in densely populated and walkable neighborhoods with interconnected streets to shops, services, restaurants, public transit and parks got up to 90 minutes of physical activity a week, or 60 percent of the 150 minutes recommended, according to James Sallis, the study’s lead investigator.

“We studied neighborhoods ranging in socioeconomic status and culture,” Sallis said. “Those built with more activity-supportive environmental features had residents who did more physical activity.

“For example, transit access is a requirement for living a lifestyle that is less car-dependent and more active because it increases walking to and from the transit facility,” said Sallis, a distinguished professor in the Department of Family Medicine and Public Health at UC San Diego School of Medicine.

UCSD researchers participated in The International Physical activity and Environment Network Adult Study (IPEN), which was conducted in 14 cities around the world, Sallis said.

Nearly 7,000 adults ranging from 18 to 65 years old participated by recording moderate-to-vigorous physical activity for approximately one week, Sallis said.

The impact of neighborhood design on health has been studied nationally for years, but Sallis and his team were the first to research the worldwide connection with objective measures, according to Michelle Brubaker, UC San Diego Health Sciences senior communications and media relations manager.

The cities studied included Seattle; Baltimore; Bogota, Colombia; Cuernavaca, Mexico; Wellington, New Zealand; Ghent, Belgium; and Hong Kong, Sallis said.

–City News Service

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