Results of two recent studies presented at the annual American Diabetes Association scientific conference in June 2014 support a growing understanding that highlights the relationship between community design and the influence on physical activity and quality of life.
Key points from the research include the following:
- Adults living in neighborhoods with greater walkability had an average 13 percent lower rate of diabetes development over 10 years than those living in less walkable areas. However, those who were age 65 or older did not see this benefit.
- Diabetes was lowest in the most walkable neighborhoods, where the number of new cases dropped seven percent over 10 years, whereas neighborhoods rated least walkable saw a six percent rise in diabetes over the same time period.
- Overweight and obesity was lowest in the most walkable neighborhoods and fell by nine percent over 10 years, whereas it rose 13 percent in communities with the least walkability.
- People who lived in the most walkable neighborhoods were three times more likely to walk or bicycle and half as likely to drive as a means of transportation.
Assessing neighborhood characteristics for walkability and opportunities for physical activity promotion can inform environment and policy change priorities being pursued for chronic disease prevention.