Health Conditions Hub Obesity

Low-Income Neighborhoods May Be Bad for Your Waistline

Study: Where you live could make a difference in what shows up on your scale

Moving to the less affluent part of town may also mean packing on extra pounds, according to new research.

In a study, published online May 8 in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, researchers tracked the health and lifestyles of more than 1,800 Dallas County residents, aged 18 to 65, for seven years.

During the study period, more than 260 participants moved to a poorer community, and nearly 600 moved to a wealthier one. About 50 moved to a similar neighborhood, and more than 900 stayed in the same neighborhood.

Those who moved to a poorer neighborhood gained more weight than those who moved to a similar or wealthier neighborhood, or remained in the same neighborhood, the study found. In addition, the poorer the new neighborhood, the greater the amount of weight gained by participants.

Though the study found only an association between poor neighborhoods and weight gain, it discovered that those who moved to a poorer neighborhood and lived there for more than four years had the highest risk of weight gain.

The findings show the potential impact moving to a poorer neighborhood might have on weight gain and risk of obesity, said lead investigator Tiffany Powell-Wiley, of the U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.The study, not designed to prove that living in a poor neighborhood actually caused the weight gain, does show it may be possible to lower the risk through targeted community-based public health programs and changes in public policy that reduce poverty in affected neighborhoods.

Public Health Takes on Obesity

Black women may need to pay particular attention to this study’s findings. Though obesity is at epidemic levels nationwide (more than one-third of U.S. adults are obese), according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, four out of five of black women are overweight or obese.

Photo: Depositphotos

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