Walk-ability of a neighbourhood directly linked to obesity and diabetes

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Walk-able neighbourhoods lower risk of diabetes and obesity
Walk-able neighbourhoods lower risk of diabetes and obesity – Aug 14, 2016

There’s no denying that walking rather than driving is good for the environment, your pocket books and your health. But now, research show pedestrian friendly neighborhoods could have a direct link to diabetes and obesity.

According to the Canadian Institute for Health Research (CIHR), a 12-year study says people living in walk-able neighbourhoods are decreasing their chances of diabetes and obesity.

“The risk of a new case of diabetes fell by almost 20 per cent in those really walk-able neighbourhoods. While in the least walk-able neighbourhoods the risk of diabetes stayed steady or even increased,” Dr. Jan Hux with Canadian Diabetes Association (CDA) explained.

According to Dr. Hux, diabetes was historically though to be a mainly genetic disease.

“What we’ve come to realize in the last decade is that environmental factors are really important in the risk of type 2 diabetes,” Dr. Hux said.

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Dr. Hux said she is very familiar with the CIHR  study and the CDA supports those findings.

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Regina scores an average 50 out of 100 on walk-ability according to

Walk-ability is measured by proximity to groceries, entertainment and necessities. For some Canadians, the walk-ability score is a determining factor in helping to decide where to choose a home.

Graeme and his wife are visiting Regina and during a recent move, they said they made an active choice to live in a walk-able neighbourhood.

“We spent a lot of our life commuting, Toronto, Calgary, Vancouver and when we got transferred back to Vancouver, we weren’t going to commute anymore. We wanted to walk.”

“The more exercise the better,” Graeme added.

Mikayla works at Lululemon in the Cornwall Center but parked her car on the opposite side of Victoria Park. She said it was a conscious decision to make her commute a partially walk-able one.

“I love to walk. It gives me a little piece of meditation before work, a little piece of mind,”  Mikayla said.

According to Dr. Hux, there are currently 97,000 diagnosed diabetics in Saskatchewan. She also said First Nations people are genetically at a higher risk.

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Joseph Reynolds is First Nations. He said multiple members of his family have diabetes.

“I am concerned for diabetes,” Reynolds said.

It’s partly why he chooses to bike when possible, opting to leave his bus pass at home when he can.

“I live downtown…and it gives me a lot of proximity to walk downtown a lot,” Joesph added.

The Canadian Diabetes Association and the CIHR say Canada is facing a diabetes and obesity crisis. They suggest next time you’re looking to move, you may want to make sure it allows you to move and walk as well.

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