Study Links Childhood Obesity to Walkability and Access to Healthy Food

A new study conducted by the Seattle Children’s Research Institute looks at how zip code is as important as genetic code in determining childhood obesity.
April 13, 2012, 1pm PDT | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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Led by Brian Saelens, PhD, of Seattle Children's Research Institute, the study [PDF], which was recently published in a special theme issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, "is among the first neighborhood environment studies to look at a combination of nutrition and physical activity environments and to assess children and their parents."

In looking at contributing environmental factors such as the availability of parks and healthy food and the walkability of a child's neighborhood, the study found that "children living in neighborhoods with favorable neighborhood environment attributes had 59 percent lower odds of being obese."

"People think of childhood obesity and immediately think about an individual's physical activity and nutrition behaviors, but they do not necessarily equate obesity with where people live," said Dr. Saelens, who is also a professor of pediatrics at the University of Washington. "Everyone from parents to policymakers should pay more attention to zip codes because they could have a big impact on weight."

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Published on Tuesday, April 10, 2012 in Seattle Children's Hospital
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