Study Links Obesity to Suburban Sprawl

No, it’s not a national thyroid problem: The U.S. obesity epidemic is caused in part by suburban sprawl, according to a study released yesterday by the National Center for Smart Growth. The study, which involved more than 200,000 people in 448 counties, was the first comprehensive examination of the health effects of sprawl, and was also the first to produce concrete evidence of the relationship between sprawl and weight gain. To wit: People who live in the most sprawling parts of the country spend less time walking and weigh about six pounds more, on average, than those who live in densely populated areas. Anti-sprawl advocates have long argued that the spread of isolated subdivisions discourages walking and biking, contributing to an epidemic in which more than two-thirds of U.S. adults are overweight and nearly one-third are obese.