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Living in Crowded Neighborhoods Cuts Diabetes Risk

Update Date: Jan 16, 2014 12:13 AM EST

Living in a crowded neighborhood may decrease your risk of diabetes and obesity, according to a new study.

Canadian researchers explain that living in densely populated places encourages walking, which decreases the risk of obesity and diabetes.

"Although diabetes can be prevented through physical activity, healthy eating and weight loss, we determined the environment in which one lives is also an important indicator of one's risk," co-author Dr. Gillian Booth, an endocrinologist and researcher with St. Michael's Hospital, said in a news release.

After examining the impact residential density and the proximity of walkable destinations have on Torontonians' health, Booth found that the combination of both factors resulted in "additional explanatory power."

Researchers explain that people who live in more walkable and densely populated neighborhoods are two times more likely to walk, bicycle or take public transit. However, those who live in sparsely populated areas with far destinations are significantly more likely to drive or own a car.

"We focused on density and destinations because they're potentially modifiable," said co-author Dr. Rick Glazier, research director in the Department of Family and Community Medicine of St. Michael's Hospital. "Policy makers, planners and public health officials can use either of these measures to inform urban design and improve community health."

The findings are published in the journal PLOS One.

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