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Urban design may reduce childhood obesity

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22nd-Jun-2018       
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Adeline Dorcas  :

Urban design with pedestrian-friendly facilities helps children to actively engage in physical activity such as walking and freely playing outdoors. Children who live in walkable neighborhoods are found to have a small waist size and lower BMI (body mass index). Urban design encouraging physical activity can help to reduce the risk of childhood obesity, according to a recent study published in Preventive Medicine.
Pedestrian-friendly amenities, such as pedestrian crossing lights, wider sidewalks, and signs to help pedestrians cross the road, are thought to have a greater impact in high-density neighborhoods. Such features can also encourage children to ride bicycles, play outside, and engage in similar activities, all of which help them burn off energy.
'Children who live in a pedestrian-friendly neighborhood, engage in regular physical activity and select healthy food choices can have a reduced risk of overweight or obesity.'
There is one unexpected outcome: In their research, the authors found that BMIs were lower in neighborhoods with a convenience store. These results demonstrate the importance of fine-tuning the analysis, particularly by taking into account the type of food sold in fast-food outlets and convenience stores. A study on the food environment in Saskatoon published in 20161 showed that children with access to high-quality food at low prices, at any type of grocery store located within 800 m of their home, had a lower risk of being overweight. This could also be the case in Montreal.
The research team analyzed and compared data collected two years apart among children in Montreal with a family history of obesity and who lived at the same address for the duration of the follow-up.
Other ongoing studies are documenting the transformations residential neighborhoods have undergone in the last ten years to assess how much these transformations have affected the risk of obesity.
Source: Eurekalert

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