Unbiased Analysis of Today's Healthcare Issues

Does living in the suburbs make you fat?

Written By: Jason Shafrin - May• 23•08

Living in an urban, pedestrian friendly area may compel individuals to walk more, and thus reduce the likelihood one is obese. Living in a suburban, car-dependent area makes walking less attractive and thus could increase obesity. Some studies have shown that individuals who live in the suburbs weigh more than individuals living in urban areas. Does living in the suburbs cause obesity?

The Vox EU website cites a paper (“Fat City“) that claims that urban sprawl is not to blame for increasing waistlines. The authors examine six years worth of data on 6000 people, 79% of whom changed addresses. They find that people who are more likely to be obese are more likely to move to sprawling neighbourhoods. However, those who moved from urban to suburban areas showed no additional weight change compared to individuals who moved from suburban to urban areas. It looks like a case of correlation not being the same as causation.

To find out how “walkable” your neighborhood is, check out Walk Score.

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