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PRI's Environmental News Magazine

Health Note/Location, Location

Air Date: Week of August 6, 2004

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Living on Earth’s Jennifer Chu reports on a study that links community design to your risk of obesity.

Transcript

CURWOOD: The author of “Diet for a Small Planet” has a recipe for overcoming our fears about environmental disaster. Frances Moore Lappé is just ahead. First, this environmental health note from Jennifer Chu.

[ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH NOTE THEME]

CHU: A new study gives weight to evidence that where you live can make you large. The Georgia Institute of Technology has completed a $4 million, seven-year study of 8,000 households in Atlanta. The goal was to learn how people spent their time, where they traveled and how they reached their destinations. In the end, researchers found that community design clearly relates to your risk of becoming overweight.

People who lived in neighborhoods within easy walking distance of shops and businesses were seven percent less likely to be obese. Commuting has the reverse effect: for every 30 minutes you spend in a car, your chance of being obese increases by three percent. The study also shows that higher densities of streets, businesses and residences contributes to fewer vehicle miles traveled, reduced emissions and greater use of public transportation.

This is the first study to demonstrate that the built environment immediately around people’s homes is a good predictor of weight. Researchers hope the results will increase the demand for smart-growth neighborhoods and limit sprawl. They also note that one third of the study’s suburban respondents said they would prefer to live in a smart-growth environment. That’s this week’s health note. I’m Jennifer Chu.

CURWOOD: And you’re listening to NPR’s Living on Earth.

ANNOUNCER: Support for NPR comes from NPR stations, and: The Noyce Foundation, dedicated to improving Math and Science instruction from kindergarten through grade 12; Ford, presenting the Escape Hybrid, whose full hybrid technology allows it to run on gas or electric power. Full hybrid technology details at fordvehicles.com; The Annenberg Fund for excellence in communications and education; and, The Kellogg Foundation, helping people help themselves by investing in individuals, their families, and their communities. On the web at w-k-k-f dot org. This is NPR -- National Public Radio.

[MUSIC: Govinda “Organic Beauty” EROTIC RHYTHMS FROM THE EARTH (Earthtone – 2001)]

 

 

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