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Urban Planning Away the Pounds: Study Links Weight Gain with Traffic

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Perhaps City Councilwoman Jan Perry, who tried to limit fry intake in South LA, and City Councilman Paul Koretz, dreamer of Westside traffic solutions, want to consider the following. For eight years, researchers from University of California, Berkeley, followed 3,000 kids living in 11 SoCal communities (Alpine, Lake Elsinore, Lancaster, Lompoc, Long Beach, Mira Loma, Riverside, San Dimas, Atascadero, Santa Maria, Upland). The worse the traffic, the more weight the kids gained, with scientists concluding that if kids can't walk around because of traffic, they'll be more sedentary. Via American City and Country: "The study's findings suggest that city planners should use traffic calming methods to make it safe for children to play outside. The study found that multi-lane roads, speeding cars and other hazards in the Los Angeles area made it unsafe for children to play outside and walk or bike to school, reducing their physical activity and, therefore, leading to weight gain." The whole study, which was adjusted to consider socioeconomic status and dietary intake, can be read here. In their conclusions, they advise congestion charging, citing London as a model, and note that "neighborhoods with good “walkability” to destinations in proximity to the home may provide some protection against obesity and physical inactivity."
· Automobile traffic around the home and attained body mass index: A longitudinal cohort study of children aged 10–18 years [Science Direct]
· Study: Traffic patterns affect childhood obesity [American City and Country]