Raja is a nationally regarded community-based scholar in the fields of food security planning and community health whose work supports and is supported by UB's Civic Engagement and Public Policy research initiative.
She points out that more than one-third of U.S. adults were reported to be obese in 2006, with the prevalence of obesity slightly greater among women than men.
"The prevalence of obesity is a significant public health concern because it places indi-viduals at a risk for a variety of diseases," she says, "and the role of environmental factors in contributing to obesity has received a lot of attention. We have attempted here to explain the paradox of high BMI rates among women living in highly walkable inner city neighborhoods.
Raja says the study has several limitations, among them, the fact that the researchers did not know where their subjects shopped for food, only what outlets were closest geographically. The also were not able to classify restaurants based on their quality -- fast-food and sit-down restaurants were treated as a single category, even though they know that quality varies widely across different types of restaurants.
"The study raises several questions to be addressed in future research," she says, "and suggests that innovative research designs will be necessary to develop greater evidence of causality -- perhaps longitudinal studies that look at how moving one's residence (thus changing exposure to a particular food, food type or built environment) affects physical activity, eating behavior and health outcomes."
The study identifies planning strategies and tools available to improve community food and built environments to support healthy eating behavior.
"Comprehensive plans, regulatory mechanisms and financial incentives can be used individually or in concert to improve food environments," the study s
|Contact: Patricia Donovan|
University at Buffalo