The evidence: walkable neighbourhoods = healthy people

15 Nov 2013

There's plenty of evidence to suggest that more walkable neighbourhoods encourage walking, then there's other evidence that walking is good for your health.  But research that translates walkable neighbourhoods to the actual health of their residents is harder to find, especially from Australia.  Now a study of 6,000 adults in Perth provides the link.

The study, described in the article Neighbourhood walkability and cardiometabolic risk factors in Australian adults, looked at health of residents and neighbourhood walkability (defined by residential density, street connectivity and land use mix).  It found:

  • Obesity, hypertension and type-2 diabetes was lower in more walkable areas.
  • Even after adjusting for socio-demographic factors, people in walkable areas were not as likely to be obese.

The connection to obesity was particularly significant.  The authors say "our findings showed strong and consistent... associations between the objectively measured walkability of the... residential neighbourhood and the prevalence of obesity."