Washington, Mar 14 : It's not only unhealthy eating habits that contribute to bulging waistlines, but also our urban surroundings, says a new study.
The study led by scientists from University of Alberta has established a link between urban planning and rising obesity rates.
Researchers focused their study over two key areas- economic environments and built environments i.e. the ways in which the neighbourhoods and the cities we live in are planned and developed.
"When we reviewed the evidence we found, for example, that lower-income neighbourhoods were more likely to have greater access to sources of high-calorie foods, such as fast-food outlets, and lower access to supermarkets or other stores stocking healthy foods," said Kim Raine, lead author and director of the University of Alberta's Centre for Health Promotion Studies.
"The report also found that a lower socio-economic status-which involves education level, income and employment-was often associated with increased obesity among both adults and children.
"Lower personal income affects the affordability of food and that has been shown to have the most consistent influence on what people eat," he added.
They also found that accessibility to recreational facilities in and around neighbourhoods had a significant impact on increasing obesity levels.
"Some hallmarks of walkability are increased residential density, mixed-use zoning and street connectivity," said co-author John Spence from the U of A's Faculty of Physical Education and Recreation.
"Conversely, factors such as urban sprawl, low intersection density, low residential density and low land-use mix tend also to favour sedentary behaviour and lower physical activity levels and promote obesity," he added.