April 7, 2009

Live close to a grocery, lose weight

A Canadian study shows that if people live near a grocery store close enough to walk to, they will keep their weight down.

Researchers at the University of British Columbia show those who live within two-thirds of a mile of a grocery store are half as likely to be overweight, compared to those living in neighborhoods without grocery stores, the Victoria (British Columbia) Times-Colonist reported.

Study author Lawrence Frank said that if there are more grocery stores, all the better. The study found that every additional store within about one-half mile translated into an 11 percent reduction in the likelihood of being overweight.

The study involved 620 people age 15 and older. The researchers measured physical activity, body mass index and the study subjects' proximity to retail and commercial buildings.

Those who lived in neighborhoods with good street lighting, continuous sidewalks and a variety of shops, services, schools, parks and workplaces within walking distance -- resulted in people walking more, the researchers said.

None of this is new, Frank told the Times-Colonist. What is new is we have a better understanding of how much -- urban-development patterns -- are affecting us and the results support more of the traditional approach to building communities.