Friday, July 9, 2010

Urbanist Paradox: Living near restaurants makes you fat

The Wall Street Journal reports on a new study that living near restaurants makes you fat. Specifically, the number of restaurants within a five-minute walk of your home is positively correlated with girth:
Bad news, women of New York City: a new study found that the more restaurants there are within a five-minute walk of your home, the more likely you are to have a higher body mass index.

The study, by three professors at the University of Buffalo, looked at 172 women living in upstate Erie County. But the findings could readily apply to New York City as well. (The same may be true for men, but the study just looked at women.)

The findings touch on something of an urbanist paradox, since a high number of restaurants within a short distance from home is also seen as a hallmark of the walkable city centers thought to be so much healthier than the sprawling, car-dependent suburbs.

The study fits with other recent findings about the Big Apple’s big waist line. Some 56% of adults living in New York City are overweight or obese, according to this City University of New York study, along with more than 40% of elementary school students.

That compares favorably with the national average, but not by much: 68% of adults in the U.S. are either overweight or obese, according to 2010 statistics from the Journal of the American Medical Association.

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