Does your family’s health, at least in part, depend on where you live? A long-term study by the University of Chicago finds that it does. The study followed 4,500 women with children who lived in public housing in Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, LA and New York City.
It turns out that people in poorer neighborhoods are at a higher risk of becoming too heavy. The study found that they have less access to grocery stores that are well-stocked with healthy foods like fresh fruits and vegetables. Also, they often don’t have safe places to be physically active and they tend to be more stressed about personal safety which may lead to poor eating habits.
The good news is that people can improve their health and reduce the risks of obesity, diabetes and heart disease by moving to better neighborhoods. The study found that families who moved out of their low income neighborhood had a lower rate of obesity than a control group after their move. They also had lower rates of diabetes and heart disease.
Even more interesting, the study found that investing in neighborhoods could substantially reduce health care spending over the long term. Having diabetes increases medical spending by about $5,000 per person per year. So, investing that same amount in neighborhood improvements, rent subsidies and improved public housing can be cost effective for cities.
The overall conclusion of the study was that it’s not enough to just ask people to change their behaviors. If we want to really make a positive impact on obesity rates, we need to address their environments as well.
Remember, healthy choices each day can transform families for generations! What choices will you make today?