BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Researchers at the University at Buffalo conducting a neighborhood-scaled exploratory study that tested the association between the food environment, the built environment and women's body mass index (BMI) have found that women with homes closer to a supermarket, relative to a convenience store, had lower BMIs, and that the greater the number of restaurants within a five minute walk of a woman's home, the higher her BMI.
The study, "Food Environment, Built Environment and Women's BMI: Evidence from Erie County, New York," involved 172 participants and was published in the April issue of the Journal of Planning Education and Research. It was led by Samina Raja, PhD, UB professor of urban and regional planning.
The study team comprised several UB researchers: Li Yin, PhD, assistant professor of urban and regional planning; James Roemmich, PhD, associate professor of pediatrics; Leonard Epstein, PhD, professor of pediatrics; Changxing Ma, PhD, assistant professor of biostatistics; and graduate students Pavan Yadav and Alex Brian Ticoalu.
"In particular, three findings are significant," says Raja.
"First, a greater number of restaurants within a five-minute walk of a subject's house was associated with a greater BMI, holding other factors constant," she says.
"Second," she says, "on average, women who live within relative proximity to supermarkets and grocery stores (as opposed to convenience stores) tend to have lower BMIs.
"Third, and perhaps most important," Raja says, "the interaction of the food environment and the built environment in a neighborhood carries significant consequences for obesity. For example, a diverse land-use mix, while beneficial for promoting physical activity, is tied to a net increase in BMI when that land is dominated by restaurants."
She says future research on the built environment and health must take into account the role of the food environment on women's health, and the
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University at Buffalo