Report: Sprawl Kills?

A new study by Rand Corporation claims that living in the suburbs takes four years all of your life.
September 28, 2004, 9am PDT | Chris Steins | @urbaninsight
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"The study found that living in a high-sprawl area has the equivalent effect on your health as aging four years. Researchers don't know why this is so, but they cited an earlier study that found people who live in high-sprawl areas walk less, weigh more and have a higher rate of high blood pressure... "

Researchers found that people who live in areas with a high degree of suburban sprawl are more likely to report chronic health problems such as high blood pressure, arthritis, headaches and breathing difficulties than people who live in less sprawling areas. The differences between people living in the two types of areas remained even when researchers accounted for factors such as age, economic status, race and the local environment that might explain the differences.

A more sprawling area has streets that are not well connected (cul-de-sacs are not as well connected as a grid), more separated land use mix (shopping, schools, work, and residential areas are far from each other), and a lower population density.

Regions that had the worst suburban sprawl include: the Riverside-San Bernardino region of California; Atlanta; Winston-Salem, N.C.; West Palm Beach, Fla.; Bridgeport-Danbury-Stamford, Conn.; Knoxville, Tenn.; Rochester, N.Y.; and Detroit.

The findings appear in the October edition of the journal Public Health, in an article titled: "Suburban sprawl and physical and mental health." The Rand Corporation has published a press release about the research.

Thanks to Chris Steins

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Published on Monday, September 27, 2004 in Chicago Sun-Times
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