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Improved living environments can reduce health problems for women and children
Date:10/20/2011

Low-income women with children who moved from high-poverty to lower-poverty neighborhoods experienced notable long-term improvements in aspects of their health; namely, reductions in diabetes and extreme obesity, according to a new study by researchers at the University of Chicago and partner institutions.

The New England Journal of Medicine published the study in a special article today, "Neighborhoods, Obesity and Diabetes - A Randomized Social Experiment." Lead author for the collaboration was Jens Ludwig, the McCormick Foundation Professor of Social Service Administration, Law and Public Policy at University of Chicago

Ludwig and a team of scholars from around the country studied 4,498 women and children who lived in public housing in distressed census tracts and who enrolled in a residential mobility program called Moving to Opportunity (MTO) between 1994 and 1998. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development operated MTO in five United States cities--Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles and New York.

Through the MTO program, families could volunteer to participate in a random lottery. Based on the lottery outcome, some volunteers received a rent voucher to move into a higher income census tract and were given counseling for moving. Other families either received a traditional voucher with no requirements regarding their housing location choice or retained routine support available in public housing.

During 2008-2010, the study collected information on families which had enrolled in the program 10 to 15 years earlier. The research team directly measured the heights and weights of MTO participants, and it also collected blood samples to test for diabetes.

At the time of follow-up, the rates of both morbid obesity and diabetes for the women who moved to the higher income census tracts were about one fifth lower than in the other two groups of women. In those groups, 17 percent of the women were
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Contact: Bobbie Mixon
bmixon@nsf.gov
703-292-8485
National Science Foundation
Source:Eurekalert

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