Urban design may help reduce childhood obesity: Study

TORONTO, Mar 30:
Urban infrastructure designed to encourage walking can help reduce childhood obesity, according to a study.
Researchers at The National Institute of Scientific Research (INRS) in Canada found that children who live in more walkable neighbourhoods have a smaller waist measurement and a lower body mass index (BMI).
The study suggests that pedestrian-friendly amenities, such as pedestrian crossing lights, wider sidewalks, and signs to help pedestrians cross the road, have a greater impact in high-density neighbourhoods.
“Such features can also encourage children to ride bicycles, play outside, and engage in similar activities, all of which help them burn off energy,” said Tracie A Barnett, a professor at INRS.
The study, published in the journal Preventive Medicine, also found that BMIs were lower in neighbourhoods with a convenience store.
These results demonstrate the importance of fine-tuning the analysis, particularly by taking into account the type of food sold in fast-food outlets and convenience stores.
The research team analysed and compared data collected two years apart among children in Montreal, Canada with a family history of obesity and who lived at the same address for the duration of the follow-up.
Other ongoing studies are documenting the transformations residential neighbourhoods have undergone in the last ten years to assess how much these transformations have affected the risk of obesity, researchers said. (PTI)