Your home address may have more affect on your weight than you realize. Living near shops and subways has a direct correlation to a lower BMI, according to a study of New York City residents published in the March/April issue of The American Journal of Health Promotion.
Researchers studied 13,102 adults living in New York City's five boroughs. By matching information on education, income, height, weight, and home address with census data and geographic records, researchers figured out respondents' access to public transit, proximity to commercial goods and services, and BMI.
After analyzing the data, the authors of the study discovered that there are three characteristics of a city environment that lead to lower BMI levels: living in areas with a mix of residential and commercial properties, living near bus and subway stops, and living in areas with dense population.
Andrew Rundle, Dr.P.H., the lead study author and assistant professor of epidemiology at the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University Medical Center, said, “a mixture of commercial and residential land uses puts commercial facilities that you need for everyday living within walking distance.” As a result, those who can walk to the corner store, will; but those who don’t have a corner store to walk to depend on their cars and therefore walk less.
Although studies have been done addressing the relationship between obesity and urban environments in smaller, newer cities, this is the first study to look at the relationship in larger, older New York.
Another study in the same journal released information that children with access to parks and lawns are less likely to be overweight. Without considering the amount of exercise the children got, researchers looked at the weight of children, compared to access to greenspace and retail food outlets. They found that those who lived near the least amount of grass were at higher risk for becoming overweight.