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Neighborhood Can Affect Obesity, Diabetes Risk
Date:10/20/2011

By Serena Gordon
HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, Oct. 19 (HealthDay News) -- Women living in poor neighborhoods are more likely to be obese and have type 2 diabetes than those who move into more advantaged areas, new research suggests.

In the first randomized trial of its kind, researchers provided women living in high-poverty areas with vouchers and counseling so they could move into better neighborhoods. After 10 years of living in the new areas, those women were 19 percent less likely to be morbidly obese, and 22 percent less likely to have developed type 2 diabetes compared to the control group that stayed in high-poverty neighborhoods.

"Investments outside the health care system can be really important complements to spending within the health care system," noted study author Jens Ludwig, the McCormick Foundation Professor of Social Service Administration, Law and Public Policy at the University of Chicago.

"The effects in our paper seem to be roughly comparable to the best practice lifestyle and medication interventions. That's pretty striking," he said. "The initial aim of the study was to help families be safer, but it turns out there's an effect on these really important health outcomes that's in the ballpark of lifestyle and medical interventions."

Results of the study are published in the Oct. 20 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

From 1994 through 1998, the study authors recruited 4,498 women with children living in public housing in high-poverty areas. The study was called Moving to Opportunity, and its aim was to see if moving the women and their children from high-poverty areas to lower-poverty areas could improve their lives. The study volunteers came from five U.S. cities: Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles and New York.

The women were assigned to one of three groups based on the results of a random lottery: one group received housing vouchers that were o
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