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Urban Design and Health

Posted in Research by fedwards on January 19th, 2009

The section below is republished with permission from the Going Solar Transport Newsletter #93, 13 January 2009, compiled by Stephen Ingrouille. Going Solar newsletter provides an excellent commentary on local sustainable transport issues in Melbourne.

“The closer you live to the city, the better chance you have of being trim, a study of Sydney suburbs has found. University of NSW researchers, in conjunction with the NSW Department of Health, examined residents in 40 local government areas across Sydney. They found those living in the outer suburbs were 30 to 50 per cent more at risk of being overweight and 40 to 60 per cent less likely to be physically active than their inner-city counterparts. ‘We set out to replicate other studies that linked urban sprawl and obesity that were conducted overseas, particularly in the US, and to see how Sydney compared’, said Bin Jalaludin, who led the study. Professor Jalaludin said the lack of urban development in more sparsely populated areas meant people were less encouraged to walk. ’We hypothesised that areas with greater population density had more mixed land use and commercial development, which means more places to walk to’, he said. The study also connected car use in sprawling areas to obesity. ‘It seems that people living in purely residential areas tend to drive more and we know that people who drive more tend to be more obese’, Professor Jalaludin said.

“Anthony Capon, who studies the relationship between the urban environment and health at the Australian National University, agrees with the findings. ‘Today, people living in regional areas are less likely to walk down the road to a local shop and will more likely drive longer distances to larger shopping centres’, Professor Capon said. The researchers warned local governments and developers of an urgent need to improve health by promoting aspects of urban planning in Sydney. ‘Unless we rethink the way we develop our cities, to making them more compact and mixed, and also to improve mass
transit with shops and services closer by, we’re not going to be able to convince people to walk and cycle more’, Professor Capon concluded.”

Ref: Ehssan Veiszadeh, Sydney Morning Herald, 14/12/08

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