People living in neighbourhoods where they perceived traffic made it unpleasant to walk were more likely to have a higher BMI than those who didn't, according to a new University of Alberta study looking at the relationship between the built environment , socio-economic status (SES), and changes in body mass index (BMI) over a six year period.
This was one of the surprise findings in the study, led by Tanya Berry, a professor in behavioural medicine and a population health expert in the Faculty of Physical Education and Recreation.
"We found that the more people perceived that traffic was a problem in their neighbourhood, the more likely they were to have a higher BMI. But whether this means that those people were less active, we don't know, but we do know this is something to be followed up on," said Berry.
Study results also showed that age and neighbourhood SES also increased BMI change. Participants living in the lowest SES neighbourhoods experienced higher BMI increases than those in high SES neighbourhoods. The average BMI increased by .4 points across the entire study sample.
"We found that younger people had the biggest increases in BMI than older people, meaning those in the over -65 group," said Berry. "That's bad news on both counts: that younger people are getter fatter and because low BMI in older people is linked to frailty and illness and is an indicator of cardiovascular disease.
" We also found that participants in high SES neighbourhoods decreased their BMI by .5 points."
This study surveyed 822 Edmontonians by phone and included questions about age, gender, education, employment, marital status and household annual income – and whether they had moved since 2002.
Participants were asked about their consumption of fruits and vegetables, how often they ate them and how many servings; whether they were smokers. Those in the study were asked to self report their height and weight so researchers could calculate their BMI, and how many minutes they spent walking, sitting, or sleeping over a seven-day period.
"We asked about the type of housing in their neighbourhoods," said Berry, "because single family, detached family dwellings tend to reduce walkability whereas in high-density, mixed residential neighbourhoods people can walk out of their apartment, go to the grocery store or other places easy to walk to."
In neighbourhood design, said Berry, there are the three D's of walkability: diversity, density and design. "And then there are people's perceptions," said Berry. "Low-income neighbourhoods would rank quite high on the walkability index, but people aren't walking because of perceived safety issues, or the only place to go is the convenience store on the corner."
Finally, said Berry, "I was surprised to find that objective walkability (an index assessing density, diversity and design) didn't come up as significant at all in our findings. There's a body of cross-sectional literature showing the relationship between the walkability of a neighbourhood and BMI, but there are some other studies, and now this longitudinal one, that actually look at the change in BMI and are calling that relationship into question.
"It might be that the perception of walkability is more important than these objective measures."
Going forward, said Berry, "We really need to pay attention to people in the lower income neighbourhoods and what we can do to help them; work with their community leagues, listen to, and understand their perceptions and what they value."
Other researchers involved in this study include J. Spence, N.Cutumitsu, J. Edwards from the Faculty of Physical Education and Recreation at the University of Alberta, and C. Blanchard from the Department of Medicine for Clinical Research, Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
Dr. Berry is supported by a Population Health Investigator Award from the Alberta Heritage Foundation for Medical Research. Dr. Chris M. Blanchard is supported by the Canada Research Chairs Program.
Jane Hurly | EurekAlert!
New study: How does Europe become a leading player for software and IT services?
03.04.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für System- und Innovationsforschung (ISI)
Reusable carbon nanotubes could be the water filter of the future, says RIT study
30.03.2017 | Rochester Institute of Technology
Physicists from the University of Würzburg are capable of generating identical looking single light particles at the push of a button. Two new studies now demonstrate the potential this method holds.
The quantum computer has fuelled the imagination of scientists for decades: It is based on fundamentally different phenomena than a conventional computer....
An international team of physicists has monitored the scattering behaviour of electrons in a non-conducting material in real-time. Their insights could be beneficial for radiotherapy.
We can refer to electrons in non-conducting materials as ‘sluggish’. Typically, they remain fixed in a location, deep inside an atomic composite. It is hence...
Two-dimensional magnetic structures are regarded as a promising material for new types of data storage, since the magnetic properties of individual molecular building blocks can be investigated and modified. For the first time, researchers have now produced a wafer-thin ferrimagnet, in which molecules with different magnetic centers arrange themselves on a gold surface to form a checkerboard pattern. Scientists at the Swiss Nanoscience Institute at the University of Basel and the Paul Scherrer Institute published their findings in the journal Nature Communications.
Ferrimagnets are composed of two centers which are magnetized at different strengths and point in opposing directions. Two-dimensional, quasi-flat ferrimagnets...
An Australian-Chinese research team has created the world's thinnest hologram, paving the way towards the integration of 3D holography into everyday...
In the race to produce a quantum computer, a number of projects are seeking a way to create quantum bits -- or qubits -- that are stable, meaning they are not much affected by changes in their environment. This normally needs highly nonlinear non-dissipative elements capable of functioning at very low temperatures.
In pursuit of this goal, researchers at EPFL's Laboratory of Photonics and Quantum Measurements LPQM (STI/SB), have investigated a nonlinear graphene-based...
24.05.2017 | Event News
23.05.2017 | Event News
22.05.2017 | Event News
24.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
24.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
24.05.2017 | Event News