Healthy neighbourhoods linked to lower diabetes risk

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Washington, Oct 13 (ANI): Individuals living in healthy neighbourhoods may have a lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes, says a new study.

In the study, Amy H. Auchincloss, Ph.D., M.P.H., of Drexel University School of Public Health, Philadelphia, and colleagues examined 2,285 adults age 45 to 84 who were initially examined between 2000 and 2002.

Study participants were from three of the sites in the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA) for which neighbourhood level data were obtained: Baltimore; Forsyth County, N.C.; and New York City/Bronx.

Blood glucose levels were obtained from study participants at baseline and at three follow-up examinations, during which other individual characteristics also were assessed (including diet, body mass index [BMI] and physical activity levels).

Measures of neighbourhood resources were obtained from a separate assessment, the Community Survey, in which other residents of the same neighbourhoods (defined as the area within a 20-minute walk or a mile from their homes) rated the suitability of their environment for physical activity and access to healthy foods.

For instance, they were asked if it was pleasant or easy to walk in their neighbourhood, and whether a large, high-quality selection of fruits, vegetables and other low-fat foods was available.

Scores for physical activity and healthy foods were calculated for each neighbourhood on scales of one to five (with five representing the healthiest areas).

Over a median (midpoint) of five years of follow-up, 233 of the 2,285 participants (10.2 percent) developed diabetes. Average neighbourhood scores were 3.68 for physical activity and 3.36 for healthy foods.

"Better neighbourhood resources, determined by a combined score for physical activity and healthy foods, were associated with a 38 percent lower incidence of type 2 diabetes," the authors said.

This was similar to the reduction in risk observed among individuals whose BMI was five points lower.

"The association remained statistically significant after further adjustment for individual dietary factors, physical activity level and body mass index," the authors said.

The study has been published in the October 12 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine, one of the JAMA/Archives journals. (ANI)

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