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Does urban living influence our weight?

The location of where you live in a city could have an effect on your weight. Researchers in Switzerland have suggested that living in a lower income neighbourhood will mean that you are more likely to have a higher BMI than your counterparts in a higher income neighbourhood, in the same city. Researchers were aiming to discover the cause of BMI ‘clusters’ in spaces and whether it is dependent on location or individuals. They measured the weights of 6,481 Swiss adults in one city over 5 years. They found that BMI is not randomly distributed across the city, in fact there were clusters of different BMI and these correlated with the average neighbourhood level of income.

The most interesting thing about this study is that individual factors such as education, age, health, ethnicity, gender, and alcohol consumption did not account for the participants’ weight and was not a cause of the clustering. The study highlights the fact that urban planning has a major impact on the health of a population, specifically the level of obesity. If there were more green spaces near the low-income neighbourhoods, would they still be as obese? The study hopes to highlight this fact and show that inspiration for improvements to disadvantaged neighbourhoods could come from those who are more affluent.

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