Built environments don’t play expected role in weight gain

People do not acquire or drop some pounds as a result of they stay close to a fast-food restaurant or grocery store, in keeping with a brand new research led by the University of Washington. And, residing in a extra “walkable”, dense neighborhood possible solely has a small affect on weight.

These “built-environment” facilities have been seen in previous analysis as important contributors to shedding pounds or tending towards weight problems. The thought seems apparent: If you reside subsequent to a fast-food restaurant, you will eat there extra and thus acquire weight. Or, when you’ve got a grocery store close by, you will store there, eat more healthy and thus drop some pounds. Live in a neighborhood that makes strolling and biking simpler and you will get out, train extra and burn extra energy.

The new research based mostly on anonymized medical information from greater than 100,000 Kaiser Permanente Washington sufferers didn’t discover that residing close to supermarkets or fast-food restaurant had any affect on weight. However, city density, such because the variety of homes in a given neighborhood, which is carefully linked to neighborhood “walkability” seems to be the strongest aspect of the constructed surroundings linked to alter in physique weight over time.

“There’s a whole lot of prior work that has urged that residing near a grocery store may result in decrease weight acquire or extra weight reduction, whereas residing near plenty of fast-food eating places may result in weight acquire,” mentioned James Buszkiewicz, lead writer of the research and a analysis scientist within the UW School of Public Health. “Our analyses of the meals surroundings and density collectively means that the extra folks there are in an space — larger density — the extra supermarkets and fast-food eating places are situated there. And we discovered that density issues to weight acquire, however not proximity to quick meals or supermarkets. So, that appears to recommend that these different research have been possible observing a false sign.”

The UW-led research, printed earlier this month within the International Journal of Obesity, discovered that individuals residing in neighborhoods with larger residential and inhabitants density weigh much less and have much less weight problems than folks residing in less-populated areas. And that did not change over a five-year interval of research.

“On the entire, when desirous about methods to curb the weight problems epidemic, our research suggests there’s possible no easy repair from the constructed surroundings, like placing in a playground or grocery store,” mentioned Buszkiewicz, who did his analysis for the research whereas a graduate scholar within the UW Department of Epidemiology.

Rather than “one thing magical in regards to the constructed surroundings itself” influencing the burden of these people, Buszkiewicz mentioned, community-level variations in weight problems are extra possible pushed by systematic components aside from the constructed surroundings — akin to earnings inequality, which is commonly the figuring out issue of the place folks can afford to stay and whether or not they can afford to maneuver.

“Whether you’ll be able to afford to eat a nutritious diet or to have the time to train, these components in all probability outweigh the issues we’re seeing when it comes to the constructed surroundings impact,” he mentioned.

The researchers used the Kaiser Permanente Washington information to collect physique weight measurements a number of occasions over a five-year interval. They additionally used geocodable addresses to determine neighborhood particulars, together with property values to assist set up socioeconomic standing, residential unit density, inhabitants density, street intersection density, and counts of supermarkets and fast-food eating places accessible inside a brief stroll or drive.

“This research actually leverages the facility of huge information,” mentioned Dr. David Arterburn, co-author and senior investigator at Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute. “Our use of anonymized well being care information permits us to reply necessary questions on environmental contributions to weight problems that might have been inconceivable up to now.”

This research is a part of a 12-year, joint UW and Kaiser Permanente Washington analysis challenge referred to as Moving to Health. The purpose of the research, in keeping with the UW’s challenge web site, is to supply population-based, complete, rigorous proof for policymakers, builders and shoppers relating to the options of the constructed surroundings which can be most strongly related to danger of weight problems and diabetes.

“Our subsequent purpose is to higher perceive what occurs when folks transfer their main residence from one neighborhood to a different,” Arterburn mentioned. “When our neighborhood traits change quickly — akin to transferring to a way more walkable residential space — does which have an necessary impact on our physique weight?”


Co-authors embrace Jennifer Bobb, Andrea Cook, Maricela Cruz, Paula Lozano, Dori Rosenberg, Mary Kay Theis and Jane Anau at Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute; Anne Vernez Moudon, UW Urban Form Lab, College of Built Environments; Stephen Mooney, UW Department of Epidemiology; Philip Hurvitz, UW Urban Form Lab and Center for Studies in Demography and Ecology; Shilpi Gupta and Adam Drewnowski, UW Center for Public Health Nutrition and Department of Epidemiology. This analysis manuscript was supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health: 1 R01 DK 114196, 5 R01 DK076608, and 4 R00LM012868.

For extra data, contact Buszkiewicz at [email protected] and Caroline Liou [email protected]

Disclaimer: AAAS and EurekAlert! are usually not liable for the accuracy of stories releases posted to EurekAlert! by contributing establishments or for using any data by way of the EurekAlert system.

Recommended For You

About the Author: Adrian

Leave a Reply