New Study Links Obesity to Land Use Patterns

<p>A new study by the University of Utah shows that people who live in walkable neighborhoods are more likely to be leaner than those who live in auto-oriented areas.</p>
July 30, 2008, 10am PDT | Tim Halbur
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"Mark Vlasic and his family weren't thinking about walkability when they moved into Salt Lake City's east Liberty Park neighborhood several years ago. But its pedestrian-friendly, tree-lined streets and proximity to work, parks and local businesses have enhanced the family's life.

'We've been recreating by biking around the neighborhood. We've discovered a new way of enjoying the city that is becoming part of our family entertainment,' said Vlasic, a landscape architect with two teenage daughters. His Browning Avenue home is midway between his office in Sugar House and his wife's downtown workplace. With spiralling gasoline prices driving up the cost of commuting, they have stepped up their use of leg-powered transportation to get to work.

It's hardly surprising, then, that a new University of Utah study suggests that older, walkable neighborhoods like the Vlasics' aren't just convenient and cost effective, but healthier as well. Crunching data on nearly 500,000 Salt Lake County driver licenses, researchers documented a strong correlation between residents' body-mass index and the kind of urban environment they inhabit. Those who live in walkable neighborhoods are leaner than those in newer areas designed around automobiles, according to the study, published today in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine."

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Published on Tuesday, July 29, 2008 in The Salt Lake Tribune
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