Saturday, August 2, 2008

Suburbs Make You Fat

A new study has found that people who live in new suburban neighborhoods weigh more than people who live in urban or older suburban areas. The key difference is walkability, according to the authors, and they say modern zoning may be to blame. New suburbs are often built with car traffic – and not foot traffic – in mind.

To quote a WebMD article about the study:

Neighborhoods built before 1950 tended to have sidewalks and other characteristics that made them more accessible to pedestrians, including being more densely populated and having restaurants and other businesses nearby, lead researcher Ken R. Smith, PhD, tells WebMD. In general, newer neighborhoods offered fewer opportunities for walking.

How walkable is your neighborhood? Find out by entering your address at You’ll get your score as well as a list of destinations within a half-mile radius. Impressively, my neighborhood (Beverly Hills Adjacent) scored 89 out of 100. A “walker’s paradise” is 90 or higher.

While people may be surprised to hear this about LA, which is not known for walking, I am pleased to report that I hoof it to the following places: the dry cleaners, the mini-market, the pharmacy, the bank, the bookstore, the hair salon, the doctor, the nail salon and a number of cafes/restaurants. As a result, I do about 60% of my errands a pied. It’s good for the planet, it’s good for the body – and it’s a lifestyle I hope to continue when I relocate.

Applying this principle to a small town, however, could be a challenge. I see I would probably need to live downtown or in an older neighborhood. To have walkability, you need to be in the heart of things. Yet another factor to add to the list!


Jessica said...

I agree about living in the heart of things -- in my old town, Walnut Creek, I lived about 2 blocks away from everything. There were times when I didn't move my car for days at a time. It was great!

Anne said... nabe scored a 62, and I think that's generous.

DJG said...

My apartment scored an 83, but I'm awarding it extra credit because it includes a Starbucks. By comparison, the house I grew up in scored a 68.

AVM said...

Comparing your present digs to your childhood home is quite illuminating. Great idea, DJG.

My parents' house in rural Virginia scores a - wait for it - ZERO. I thought as much, but it was still shocking to see somehow. Now you see why walkability excites me so much! :)

And Jessica, my record for not moving my car is six days. I was also went carless in LA (!) for well over a year between 2006-7.

Larissa said...

I think I can top you guys with the whole not moving your car... Not only did my hubby use my car for months on end, I can now say that we are a one car family and have been now for almost 3 months. If I had my druthers, I would never own one again!