Thursday, July 06, 2006

Community characteristics can up obesity

Community characteristics can up obesity
Source: UPI

ST. LOUIS (UPI) -- Certain characteristics of a neighborhood may put residents at greater risk of being obese, finds a study by Saint Louis University.

Residents of rural communities who feel isolated from recreational facilities, stores, churches and schools are more likely to be obese than those who believe they are closer to facilities, according to study leader Tegan Boehmer of the Saint Louis University School of Public Health.

"This is the first time it's been confirmed in people who live in rural settings," said Boehmer. "Altering the neighborhood environment to be more activity friendly may result in higher levels of physical activity and the reduced prevalence of obesity on a population level."

The researcher interviewed 2,500 residents of 13 rural communities in Missouri, Tennessee and Arkansas.

Personal behaviors, such as eating a high-fat diet or watching a lot of television, and being middle-aged were linked to obesity.

However, environmental factors, such as distance from recreational facilities and other destinations, feeling unsafe from crime and traffic and poor aesthetics of the neighborhood, also were linked to obesity.

The findings are published in the July/August issue of the American Journal of Health Promotion.
Copyright 2006 by United Press International

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