"How we build our cities matters in terms of our overall health," said lead researcher Gillian Booth from St Michael's Hospital and the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences (ICES) in Toronto.

"Every opportunity to walk, to get outside, to go to the corner store or walk our children to school can have a big impact on our risk for diabetes and becoming overweight," Booth said.

To understand this, researchers compared adults living in the most and least ‘walkable’ metropolitan areas. Over a 10-year period, they found a lower risk of developing diabetes for those who lived in neighbourhoods with more interconnectivity among streets and more local stores and services within walking distance.

"Most walkable neighbourhoods had the lowest incidence of obesity, overweight and diabetes," researchers said.
"When you live in a neighbourhood designed to encourage people to be more active, you are in fact more likely to be more active," said Marisa Creatore, an epidemiologist at St Michael's Hospital.

The study found that people living in neighbourhood that is conducive to walking saw on an average a 13 percent lower development of diabetes incidence over 10 years than those that were less walkable.

Diabetes was lowest in the most walkable neighbourhoods, where incidence fell seven percent over 10 years.

Overweight and obesity was lowest in the most walkable neighbourhoods and fell by nine percent over 10 years.

The findings were presented at the American Diabetes Association's 74th scientific session recently.


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