By Chelsea Karnash
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Could your neighborhood be making you fat?
It’s an interesting question, and now, researchers at Drexel University’s School of Public Health may have the answer: yes.
According to a study published in the journal Obesity, both the walkability of the area in which you live and the array of healthy food options can indeed have an impact on your Body Mass Index (BMI).
The study followed just over 4,000 adults from six cities, all of whom were not obese at the start of the research. All of the participants had to rate their neighborhoods in terms of the availability of healthy foods and walking environments within one mile at the start of the study.
After five years, 406 of the participants had become obese.
Researchers say there were associations between obesity and not having healthy options within one mile of your home, with a “neighborhood healthy food environment” associated with a 10% lower rate of obesity.
“Programs including farmer’s markets and subsidies for fresh food vendors to locate in disadvantaged areas are the types of adaptations cities and towns can make to create healthier communities – without putting the burden on individuals to have to move to a new neighborhood in order to adopt a healthier lifestyle,” the lead researcher in the study, Dr. Amy Auchincloss, said in a release.
And while researchers also found a link between the walkability of a neighborhood and obesity, they say that link was directly related to the availability of healthy food.