Sprawl and Obesity: A Review Of Research and Arguments

<p>Science News reviews the research and opinions linking sprawl and obesity, and investigates whether urban sprawl "makes people fat."</p>
February 7, 2007, 1pm PST | Chris Steins | @urbaninsight
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"As scientists investigate the relationship between sprawl and obesity, a compact style of city development sometimes called smart growth might become a tool in the fight for the nation's health. However, University of Toronto economist Matthew Turner charges that "a lot of people out there don't like urban sprawl, and those people are trying to hijack the obesity epidemic to further the smart-growth agenda [and] change how cities look."

..."In September 2003, two major studies linked sprawl and obesity. Since those reports, researchers in fields as disparate as epidemiology and economics have generated a spate of similarly themed studies."

..."So far, the dozen strong studies that have probed the relationships among the urban environment, people's activity, and obesity have all agreed, says Ewing. 'Sprawling places have heavier people,' he says. 'There is evidence of an association between the built environment and obesity.' "

"Frank's latest findings could split the ideological difference. By surveying people in a variety of neighborhoods, he learned that people who are less inclined to be active tend to live in less pedestrian-friendly locales-evidence that people are sorting themselves. But he also found that, no matter how much people like or dislike being active, they are more active when they live in compact, walkable areas than when they live in sprawling neighborhoods."

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Published on Saturday, January 20, 2007 in Science News
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