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CURWOOD: The author of "Diet for a Small Planet" has a recipe for overcoming our fears about environmental disaster. Frances Moore Lappé is just ahead. First, this environmental health note from Jennifer Chu.
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CHU: A new study gives weight to evidence that where you live can make you large. The Georgia Institute of Technology has completed a $4 million, seven-year study of 8,000 households in Atlanta. The goal was to learn how people spent their time, where they traveled and how they reached their destinations. In the end, researchers found that community design clearly relates to your risk of becoming overweight.
People who lived in neighborhoods within easy walking distance of shops and businesses were seven percent less likely to be obese. Commuting has the reverse effect: for every 30 minutes you spend in a car, your chance of being obese increases by three percent. The study also shows that higher densities of streets, businesses and residences contributes to fewer vehicle miles traveled, reduced emissions and greater use of public transportation.
This is the first study to demonstrate that the built environment immediately around people's homes is a good predictor of weight. Researchers hope the results will increase the demand for smart-growth neighborhoods and limit sprawl. They also note that one third of the study's suburban respondents said they would prefer to live in a smart-growth environment. That's this week's health note. I'm Jennifer Chu.
CURWOOD: And you're listening to NPR's Living on Earth.
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