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Neighborhood barriers add to obesity

NEW YORK, Feb. 8 (UPI) -- Neighborhood characteristics such as income, housing, supermarkets and barriers to physical activity add to the U.S. obesity problem, a review found.

Jennifer L. Black of New York University reviewed 90 studies published from 1997 through 2007 on neighborhood determinants of obesity.

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The review, published in the journal Nutrition Reviews, found that neighborhoods with decreased economic and social resources have higher rates of obesity.

Residents in low-income urban areas are more likely to report greater neighborhood barriers to physical activity, such as limited opportunities for daily walking or physical activity and reduced access to stores that sell healthy foods, especially large supermarkets, the review said.

"While individual-level characteristics such as income, cultural preferences and genetic predisposition contribute to geographic disparities in weight, neighborhood-level services and structures that affect physical activity behaviors and dietary choices are emerging as important and potentially modifiable," the review authors said in a statement.

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