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Healthy Neighborhoods Lowers Risk of Type II Diabetes

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Healthy Neighborhoods Lowers Risk of Type II Diabetes

October 15, 2009
By Soey Park for Body1

People have always said that “home is where the heart is”; and for most of us, ‘home’ refers to our current residential address. We refer to this place as our home, because it is the geographical location in which we have decided to lay down some roots and build a life. When we reach the point in our lives wherein the desire to build a home becomes a need, we take time to think about what really matters to us.  We take into consideration the neighborhood, the geographic layout, and sometimes, we even check out the neighboring areas for its potential in broadening our horizons and pursuing our interests. In other words, we take a lot of material things into consideration before moving into a home. One thing is for sure however, you have never really given much thought to how your location could affect your health.

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How to spot a “healthy” neighborhood:
  • Sidewalks are well-lit and safe
  • Plenty of clean and safe “green space” (i.e. public parks) for residents to use
  • Dependable public transportation
  • Easy access to fresh fruits/vegetables (i.e. Farmer’s markets)
  • An interesting study was conducted by Amy Auchincloss, PhD along with fellow colleagues at Drexel University in Philadelphia, to examine the relationship between participants’ neighborhood and health. Research found that there was a significant relationship between the availability of healthy choices in a neighborhood with the health of its residents. 

     2,285 people between the ages of 45 to 84 living in the neighborhoods of Forsyth County, North Carolina, Baltimore, Maryland, and the Bronx in New York City were surveyed for this study. The participants were asked to evaluate and rate their neighborhood based on a variety of questions related to the availability of healthy options in the area. Example questions included asking participants if taking a walk in their community was easy and pleasant, whether or not local stores were well-stocked with a variety of high-quality fruits, vegetables and low-fat foods, as well as asking how common to see other residents exercising. 


    After the 5-year cohort study which included controls for age, income, race and education, the research revealed that participants who were living in healthy neighborhoods were up to 38% less likely to develop type-II diabetes than those who were living in less healthy neighborhoods.


    What does this mean for you? It means that your risk for developing type-II diabetes can be significantly lower by simply choosing to live in a neighborhood that promotes exercise and offers easy access to healthy foods. 


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