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Urban Built Environment May Play a Vital Role in Influencing the Body Size

Researchers at the Mailman School of Public Health are one of the 14 groups to receive funding from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences// (NIEHS) to study the association between body size and the built environment.

This is a new study to control the rising obesity rates by understanding the effect of built environment and an individual’s body size. Working with various city departments, Andrew Rundle, DrPH, assistant professor in the Department of Epidemiology at the Mailman School, and his research team, are gathering data on various fields.

They are studying the effect of land use, density of bus and subway stops, availability of nutritious food, the location and quality of parks and recreation facilities, number of trees on a street and the number of buildings with elevators. They assume that all these factors might in one way or the other play an important role in affecting a person's diet and activity levels.

Dr. Rundle found that people living in neighborhoods that have a mixture of residential and commercial uses have lower levels of obesity than people who live in neighborhoods that are closer to being 100 % residential. The data also indicates that as the density of bus and subway stops increases in a neighborhood, the body size of residents goes down. Again, it is thought that public transit allows residents to be private automobile independent and promotes walking.

Dr. Rundle hopes his research findings will bring the import factor health while discussing urban planning in New York City and across North America. His study extends to about four years. Zoning in the neighborhoods will bring in huge success and is of great and real public health significance.

Dr. Rundle believes that obesity is like an epidemic of a thousand paper cuts. This can be managed with subtle changes in lifestyle over a period of time rather than using a single magic bullet.


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