Traffic density perception, obesity linked

May 12, 2010 at 1:52 AM
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EDMONTON, Alberta, May 12 (UPI) -- People living in neighborhoods where traffic is perceived as a bother or dangerous may become fatter, Canadian researchers suggest.

Study leader Tanya Berry, a professor in behavioral medicine and a population health expert at the University of Alberta, and colleagues surveyed 822 Edmontonians by telephone and asked questions about age, gender, education, employment, marital status and household annual income.

Study participants were also asked about produce consumption, smoking and how much time they spent walking and sitting. The study participants self-reported their height and weight, and researchers calculated their body mass index.

"We asked about the type of housing in their neighborhoods, because single-family, detached-family dwellings tend to reduce walkability whereas in high-density, mixed residential neighborhoods people can walk out of their apartment, go to the grocery store or other places easy to walk to," Berry said in a statement.

"We found that the more people perceived that traffic was a problem in their neighborhood, the more likely they were to have a higher BMI. But whether this means that those people were less active, we don't know, but we do know this is something to be followed up on."

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