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Residents Of Walk-Friendly, Dense Neighborhoods May Have Lower Diabetes Risk

A walk-friendly, densely-populated neighborhood could help you keep diabetes at bay, a new study in the journal PLOS ONE suggests.

Researchers from St. Michael's Hospital found that the less walkable and more dependent on cars a neighborhood is, the greater the risk of diabetes and obesity for people living in those neighborhoods.

"Although diabetes can be prevented through physical activity, healthy eating and weight loss, we determined the environment in which one lives is also an important indicator of one's risk," study researcher Dr. Gillian Booth, an endocrinologist and researcher with St. Michael’s Hospital, said in a statement.

Booth's study examined the walkability and residential density of different Toronto neighborhoods to see how they influenced diabetes and obesity of the neighborhoods' residents. While they found that each factor independently predicted the health of the residents, the two factors together was an even more powerful predictor.

Particularly, living in a more walkable and densely populated neighborhood doubled the likelihood of walking, biking or taking public transportation, while living in a less-walkable neighborhood increased the likelihood of driving to do errands.

Specific neighborhoods that were found to be walk-unfriendly included Morningside, Bridle Path-Sunnybrook-York Mills and Edenbridge- Humber Valley. Meanwhile, Roncesvalles, The Beaches and Yonge-Eglington were denser and more walkable.

Previously, the same researchers found that residents of walk-unfriendly neighborhoods had a 50 percent higher diabetes risk, compared with their peers who live in walk-friendly neighborhoods. That finding was published in the journal Diabetes Care.