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"Active cities" may help reduce obesity rate

08-23-2010 09:06 BJT

LOS ANGELES, Aug. 20 (Xinhua) -- U.S. researchers have found that residents who live in cities with more sidewalks and bike paths tend to be slimmer.

To determine how "active cities" influence the obesity rate, researchers at University of Tennessee (UT) analyzed data from all 50 U.S. states and 47 of the 50 largest U.S. cities, along with international data from 14 countries.

While the international data included the percentage of all trips taken by walking and cycling, the city and state comparisons used the percentage of work trips that were active. They also looked at overall physical activity, obesity and diabetes.

Results showed that cities and states with more sidewalks and bike paths tend to have slimmer residents than locations where people must rely on non-active, car transportation.

Walking and cycling rates could explain more than half of the differences in obesity rates among countries, and about 30 percent of the difference in obesity rates among cities and states, according to the study published online on Friday in the American Journal of Public Health.

States with higher rates of walking and cycling had a higher percentage of adults who met the recommended levels of physical activity, a lower percentage of obese adults, and a lower percentage of adults with diabetes, the study said.

"U.S. cities with the lowest levels of ped-bike commuting were newer cities affected by urban sprawl, such as Dallas, Ft. Worth, Arlington, Jacksonville, Nashville, Indianapolis, Oklahoma City and Charlotte," said researcher David Bassett at UT's Obesity Research Center.

These cities reported having just one percent to two percent of work trips involving active travel, Bassett said.

Those cities with the highest levels of active commuting and lower obesity rates tended to be the older U.S. cities with well- developed public transit systems in the Northeast (Boston, New York and Washington, D.C.) and on the West Coast (Seattle and San Francisco).

More than 10 percent of work trips in these cities involved walking or biking, said Bassett.

Editor:Zheng Limin |Source: Xinhua

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