LIVING HEALTHY Published January6, 2016 By Czarelli Tuason

Could Urban Living Be Contributing To Obesity?

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Overweight man sitting on park bench
(Photo : By: Digital Vision | Getty Images)

A research conducted by experts at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne, Switzerland and published at the British Medical Journal Open revealed that living in an urban environment could actually contribute to the growing obesity levels in individuals.

The Local reported on Wednesday that the researchers, comprised of doctors and geographers, developed a body mass index (BMI) map of those living in Lausanne after garnering over 6,000 city residents to participate in the research by stepping on the scale.

The map revealed that the more obese people are found in the western, working-class regions of the city, as compared to those who are residing at the prosperous neighborhoods in the southern and eastern regions.

The common factors for obesity, such as age, gender, ethnicity, health, education, income and alcohol consumption, could not justify why some residents in a particular region weighed more than those living in other regions.

The researchers therefore concluded that "urban living itself could play a role" on weight gain and obesity.

The map developed by the researchers used red dots to represent areas with higher BMI levels and blue dots for low BMI levels, which significantly shows the difference in weight between those living in the eastern and western areas.

Swiss Info noted on Tuesday that co-author of the study Idris Guessous took into consideration whether proximity to stores and fast food restaurants or geographical compartmentalization and spatial dependence were factors on the weight trend of the subjects.

"We tend to look and act like our neighbors, despite potentially sharp sociocultural differences," Guessous said.

If urbanization, in fact, acts as a factor to the growing number of obese individuals, experts could list a few means of solving the issue.

"You cannot change your age, it's not easy to act on your educational level, and equal income for all is the stuff of utopia," said Guessous. "But we can do something about city living. Once we've gained a better understanding of the role of urbanism, we'll be able to look at the more affluent suburbs and get idea on how to improve disadvantaged neighborhoods."

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