RSSA healthy neighbourhood cuts diabetes risk

Posted on Mon, 12 Oct 09

A healthy neighbourhood cuts diabetes risk

The residential environment we live in may have a large impact on our health. A unique study examining the availability of neighbourhood resources has found that accessibility to healthy food such as fruit and vegetables and greater opportunities to be physically active is associated with a reduced risk for type 2 diabetes (1). With the prevalence of type 2 diabetes expected to rise to 366 million by 2030 this finding has important implications (2).

Better resources, better health

Over a 5 year period it was found that those who lived in a residential neighbourhood with better access to healthier food and resources for physical activity had a significant (38% lower) reduction in the development of type 2 diabetes. The study investigators concluded that “our results are consistent with the hypotheses that improving environmental features such as having nearby, pleasant, safe destinations within walking distance and improving the availability of healthy foods may halt increases in type 2 diabetes incidence.”

Our health is an environmental issue

In an accompanying editorial Dr Mitchell Katz from the San Francisco Department of Public Health commented on the findings “unfortunately, in most developed countries today, the environment offers few opportunities for exercise, and highly processed foods are more plentiful than fresh vegetables and raw grains. While causality cannot be proven, the increase in obesity and type 2 diabetes in developed countries tracks with these environmental changes. If we are to decrease the rates of type 2 diabetes, we need to change the environment in ways that make it easy for people to exercise and eat right as part of their daily routine (3).”


1. Amy H. Auchincloss; Ana V. Diez Roux; Mahasin S. Mujahid et al. Neighborhood Resources for Physical Activity and Healthy Foods and Incidence of Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus: The Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis. Arch Intern Med. 2009; 169:1698-1704.

2. Wild S et al. Global Prevalence of Diabetes. Estimates for the year 2000 and projections for 2030. Diabetes Care 27:1047–1053, 2004

3. Mitchell H. Katz Quality of Residential Neighborhood: A Modifiable Risk Factor for Type 2 Diabetes? Arch Intern Med. 2009; 169:1653-1654.

Tags: Residential Environment, Type 2 Diabetes

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